“I think there’s a lot of cowardice. And I guess I don’t mean that as just a pejorative attack for no reason, just to be mean. It’s like, it’s truly people, I think, fear — more than they fear death, they fear being kicked out of a tribe, and they fear losing an identity,” Kinzinger told PBS NewsHour’s Geoff Bennett.
“And if you stand up against somebody like Donald Trump, and you violate this, like, intense feeling of a party, you’re going to lose both. You’re going to lose your identity as a member of Congress. Some people just love carrying that around. And you’re going to be kicked out of a Republican tribe.”
Bennett, in his interview with Kinzinger on Wednesday, noted that the ex-House Republican has had a “lonely fight” in coming out “forcefully” against Trump.
Kinzinger, a fierce Trump critic, was one of two Republicans who served on the Jan. 6 committee and one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him over his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
He told Bennett that he has “no regrets in standing up” to the former president.
“And that’s why I continue to do it,” said the Republican before referring to another vocal Trump critic and Jan. 6 committee member who also left Congress in January.
“But it needed to be more than just me and Liz Cheney, because, unfortunately, there’s too many people that just continue to say that Donald Trump did nothing wrong.”
Kinzinger, who previously said he’d vote for President Joe Biden over Trump and he wouldn’t give up the title of Republican, told Bennett he doesn’t know if the “party wants” a path back to GOP moderation.
“There is a path. That path is either going to be through a bunch of lost elections, or it’s going to be through an awakening of some sort. But I don’t necessarily see how an awakening would happen, but they do. It has happened before in history,” he said.
“So, yes, I think there’s a possibility, but it’s just we’re not at that moment now.”