The Air Force veteran and current lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard who served two tours of duty in the Iraq war launched a new political action committee to take aim against Republicans who continue to embrace and Trump.
Pointing to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters to unsuccessfully disrupt congressional certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump, the congressman said Sunday in a video announcing his new “Country First” PAC that “this is no time for silence. Not after the last month. Not after the last few years. Someone needs to tell the truth.”
The insurrection resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer, and widespread vandalism of the building. The storming of the Capitol occurred soon after Trump urged a large crowd of supporters he addressed at a rally near the White House to march to the Capitol and show strength in protesting the certification of the election.
The then president was impeached by the House a week later on one count of inciting an insurrection. Ten Republicans – including Kinzinger – joined all 222 Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, with 197 Republicans voting against impeachment.
Kinzinger, who represents a district in the central and eastern parts of northern Illinois, argues, “The Republican Party has lost its way. If we are to lead again, we need to muster the courage to remember who we are. We need to remember what we believe and why we believe it. Looking in the mirror can be hard, but the time has come to choose what kind of party we will be and what kind of future we’ll fight to bring about.”
The congressman, who was first elected to Congress as part of the conservative Tea Party wave of 2010, lamented that “today’s Republican Party is not the one I joined.”
“The party that always spoke about a brighter tomorrow no longer does. It talks about a dark future instead. Hope has given way to fear. Outrage has replaced opportunity. And worst of all, our deep convictions are ignored. They’ve been replaced by poisonous conspiracies and lies. This is not the Republican road and now we know exactly where new and dangerous road leads. It leads to insurrection and an armed attack on the Capitol,” he argued.
Kinzinger stressed that “Republicans must say enough is enough. It’s time to unplug the outrage machine, reject the politics of personality and cast aside the conspiracy theories and rage.”
“The future of the GOP is on the line,” he emphasized. “Let’s take back our party.”
Trump reshaped the Republican Party during his four years in the White House and ruled over it with an iron fist. While his clout with the GOP appeared to take a hit after last month’s insurrection at the Capitol, the latest polling indicates Trump remains very popular among Republicans. And that popularity was illustrated by the vote by nearly all House Republicans not to impeach Trump and the vote by 45 of the 50 Senate Republicans to support an unsuccessful resolution saying that a Senate impeachment trial of the former president would be unconstitutional.
Trump has said that he plans to stay influential in GOP politics going forward, supporting primary challenges to Republicans up for reelection in 2022 who refused to help the then president’s attempts to upend Biden’s election victory. And Trump is flirting with a 2024 presidential run to try and win back the White House.
Last week, House Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, after initially saying Trump was partially to blame for the storming of the Capitol, reversed course and met with the former president at his home in southern Florida.
A day before McCarthy seemingly made peace with Trump and embraced the former president’s leadership role in the GOP going forward, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a top Trump ally, held a rally in Wyoming to lambast Rep. Liz Cheney in her home state. Cheney, the most high profile of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, is facing a push by a majority of House Republicans to strip her of her position as number three in House GOP leadership. And Cheney is also facing multiple primary challenges next year.
The 42-year-old Kinzinger, who was easily reelected last November, is also facing a primary challenge from a Republican who named his campaign committee “Impeach Adam Kinzinger 2022.”