Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois congressman who has become one of the most prominent critics of the Republican Party from within its ranks, slammed fellow members of his party for their rhetoric surrounding the effort to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19, calling their inflammatory remarks "absolute insanity" and saying he believes the GOP has been "hijacked" and is "on its way to the ground."
Kinzinger made the comments Sunday in an interview on CNN with Jake Tapper.
Tapper asked Kinzinger for his reaction to fellow GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's tweet comparing President Joe Biden's remarks about mobilizing teams to bring vaccine to people in their homes to Nazi-era "brown shirts," a paramilitary organization that aided Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany. Tapper also asked about Rep. Lauren Boebert calling vaccination teams "needle Nazis" as well as Sen. Ted Cruz comparing the initiative to "Soviet Russia."
"It's absolute insanity," Kinzinger said. "Now what President Biden said, and maybe he could have said it slightly differently, is, 'We're willing to come to your house to give you the vaccine.' At no point was anybody saying they're going to break down your door and jam a vaccine in your arm despite your protest."
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
"This is outrage politics that is being played by my party and it's going to get Americans killed," he continued.
"My party has been hijacked. It is on its way to the ground and for some people it's a fun ride, right, 'We can put out this outrageous stuff on Twitter, yeah, I'm getting all these retweets and everybody knows me, I'm famous,' but this plane is going to crash into the ground," Kinzinger said.
"Listen, if you are a Republican voter, do not listen to people like Marjorie Taylor Greene. The vaccine is safe, COVID is real, get vaccinated," he added.
Kinzinger noted that in March, Greene was "bragging about Donald Trump creating the vaccine and now she's saying basically the vaccine is gonna kill you." He then called on leaders in the Republican Party to condemn "these garbage politicians, these absolute clown politicians playing on your vaccine fears for their own selfish gain."
Kinzinger has broken with the Republican Party on several issues in recent months, particularly the party's continued support for former President Trump.
Kinzinger was the first Republican member of Congress to call for Trump's removal from office after his supporters laid siege to the U.S. Capitol in January in a violent and deadly attack that temporarily halted the electoral vote count certifying Biden's victory.
He and nine other Republicans in the House later voted to impeach Trump on a charge of incitement of violence related to the riot, saying in a statement that there was "no doubt" in his mind that Trump "broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection."
Kinzinger, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, has spoken out against Trump on several occasions and has been rumored to be considering a statewide run in Illinois, potentially for governor or U.S. Senate in 2022, according to multiple reports.
Politico Illinois reported Monday that Kinzinger raised $1.3 million in the second quarter of this year, per a source close to his campaign, fueling speculation that he could be preparing for a potential statewide run.
The 16th District that Kinzinger currently represents stretches from the northern border of Illinois to the eastern border of the state and including parts or all of DeKalb, Winnebago, Will, LaSalle and Grundy counties, among others.
The district includes parts of Rockford, DeKalb, Ottawa, Streator, Pontiac and more - but the district map is expected to change later this year with redistricting, when maps of all districts across the state and around the country are redrawn every ten years following the U.S. Census.