On CNN Wednesday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tore into his party for nominating extremists — and warned that the leadership is empowering the right fringe in a way that endangers public safety.
"Doug Mastriano has won the Republican nomination for governor [of Pennsylvania]," said anchor John Berman. "Mastriano — to call him an election denier is an understatement. This is a guy who worked as hard as he could to overturn the will of Pennsylvania voters in the 2020 election. What does it tell you he is the Republican nominee for governor now?"
"It tells me that... if you think that means we're winning this battle for the soul of the Republican Party, it is not true," said Kinzinger, who sits on the House Select Committee investigating January 6. "I think there can be moments of victory, and I think this is going to be a long-term fight for the soul of the whole country. In this case, you know, look, you can look at this race, you can look at other races and say, it seems like there is almost a competition to see who can become even more crazy and somehow now that is a litmus test of who is conservative."
"I think it is important for conservatives, for even moderates and liberals, to take back what being a conservative really means," added Kinzinger. "It doesn't mean being an election denier. It doesn't mean ... being pretty much there on January 6th. Being a conservative — we all know what it used to mean. It means you want to spend a little less money and empower people, doesn't mean you deny elections. This will be a long-term fight for the soul of this country and particularly the soul of the party."
Berman then turned to the white supremacist massacre in Buffalo. "How responsible do you feel that some leaders are for creating, sort of, this environment?"
"Well, what I'm asking for is just to spit out the cancer," said Kinzinger. "There was a day Steve King used to be a member of Congress from Iowa, and he made some racist comments and we basically kicked him off his committees. Today, you know, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, you know, people like Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, the folks you think about, they are almost leading — I would argue that they are leading the Republican caucus."
"What happens, John, is, did they pull the trigger? No. Did they call this guy up and tell him to do it? Of course not," continued Kinzinger. "But when we as a party or a movement or people like, frankly, Tucker Carlson, you know, throw out these theories or just fish in the waters of white replacement theory or echo some of those kind of fear-based things, you can't be surprised when some people take that to the level of going and massacring people. You just can't. You can't fundraise, you can't feed, you can't live on fear because eventually you're going to create fearful people and fearful people can do really bad things. And I think that's what we saw in Buffalo."
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