(NewsNation) — In a wide-ranging interview with NewsNation local affiliate WGN, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) talked about the Republican party, his work on the Jan.6 committee and his political career.
Kinzinger has faced much criticism from the GOP for being one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, and also for his work on the committee investigating the Jan.6 insurrection.
Speaking about his interview with Kinzinger on “Morning in America,” WGN’s Ben Bradley said while the nation now knows the congressman as a “rogue Republican who dared speak evil of their party’s new prophet, (former president) Donald Trump,” he was previously known as a very conservative politician.
These are some takeaways from that interview:
Kinzinger concerned about Trump’s hold on Republican party
Speaking to WGN about the Kinzinger vs. Trump feud, the congressman says in the short term at least, “He won.”
“There’s no use in pretending somehow I scored some major victory and saved the party,” he said.
During the interview, Bradley said Kinzinger told him the party is “no longer about policy, but about a person.”
“The party is like ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers,'” Kinzinger said in his WGN interview. “It’s not the party I ever joined. It’s around a person and it’s kind of creepy, to be honest with you.”
Still, he has his qualms with the Democratic party as well. Democrats have funded attacks against more moderate Republicans to elevate Trump-backed candidates in primaries, with the theory that they’ll be easier to beat in the general election. As WGN pointed out, it was Illinois Democrats who drew Kinzinger out of his own congressional district which helped fuel his decision to not seek re-election.
“When they’re spending donor money to promote these candidates that don’t believe in democracy and then come and tell me ‘Where have all the good Republicans gone?’ That does get a little frustrating,” Kinzinger said.
Kinzinger regrets voting for Trump in 2020
“I’m the only person in America that didn’t vote for him in 2016, that did in 2020,” Kinzinger said. “I mean, the truth is, it was, for me, it was a cowardice move.”
After not voting for Trump the first time, Kinzinger said he “paid the price.”
“Every time I did an event, I went anywhere, people remembered that I didn’t vote for him,” he said. “And so when 2020 came around… I go, I don’t want to deal with this again. He’s not going to win Illinois. And so I voted for him.”
Business Insider reported that Kinzinger said at the time that he was thinking about the sentiments of the constituents of his conservative-leaning congressional districts.
That vote is now something Kinzinger regrets.
“If I could go back in time, certainly, I wouldn’t do that,” he said.
There are other things Kinzinger doesn’t regret though — like standing up to the former president’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen.
Kinzinger still considering his political future
Bradley said Kinzinger has a political action committee where he has gone around the country to raise up other conservative, but independent, candidates.
“He admits that he’d consider running for president one day, but the pendulum has to swing back,” Bradley said. “If you look at politics and say, sometimes it swings to the left. Sometimes it swings to the right. We’re stuck over here, not necessarily left to right, but Trump or not.”
There’s no evidence, however, that the pendulum has swung back enough for Kinzinger to get back in the race two years from now.
“He’s not ruling out an end to his political career. He passed on a race for governor here in Illinois, though he’s obviously leaving Congress,” Bradley said. “But I think he is the rare politician who, if he doesn’t return to politics, if the math doesn’t add up, he would be just fine. And he really has no regrets, despite it all.”