Election 2020

Combat Vet Congressman Won't 'Roll Over' and Back Trump

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) leaves a meeting of the House Republican Caucus in the Capitol on June 10, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

After Donald Trump’s Thursday trip to Capitol Hill, one GOP lawmaker declared that “the Republican nominee has to talk like a Republican” before he gets his support.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who served in the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan, told CNN that “the tone I hear from Donald Trump is not there yet — it’s nothing against people that support him, but I have a decision to make.”

Kinzinger acknowledged there’s “a lot of pressure” from GOP leaders to jump on the Trump train.

“Everybody has a decision to make on who to vote for, a member of Congress, as a private citizen, has to make that decision as well. Donald Trump’s tone, his violent rhetoric, things, talking about banning all Muslims, when, frankly, there are Muslim nations that are doing a lot of dirty work against al-Qaeda, for instance — Saudi Arabia dealt al-Qaeda one of the biggest blows recently,” he said. “It is that tone. It is a foreign policy that’s nonsensical when he explains it. That’s a huge concern to me.”

“Now, I would love to eventually get to where I can endorse the Republican nominee. I’m a Republican. But the Republican nominee has to talk like a Republican. He has to have some Republican values. And, frankly, he has to be worthy of inheriting the job of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.”

Kinzinger, who is running for his fourth term this fall, said he came to Congress “not because I wanted a title, not because I wanted paycheck, but I came out to make a difference.”

“And on a thing like foreign policy, where I have spent six years fighting hard to remind Americans our mission in the world and things like that, when you have a nominee that says basically the direct opposite, embraces Vladimir Putin, is flattered by Vladimir Putin, says give the Middle East to Russia, those are concerning issues and ones that I can’t just roll over on,” he said.

The congressman said he won’t support Hillary Clinton, but could add a write-in for president.

“He has got a coalition of people showing up that traditionally don’t vote. And that’s true. And I will give him that. Now, the question is, does that translate out of a primary into a general election? I think that remains to be seen,” Kinzinger continued.

“But the other thing is, how much does he motivate, for instance, the Hispanic vote to come out for Hillary Clinton and vote against him? These are questions that I think we are kind of figuring out. And really it is on Donald Trump. Whether the Republican Party unites, whether he can turn out those coalitions is on him and his tone and what he says. So, I will leave it to him. It’s in his hands… Populism is one thing. Populism on foreign policy is something completely different. And I think the job of presidency and the debate is worthy of adult discussions on it, not just populist rhetoric.”