Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) slammed the House Republican leader on Monday, accusing Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) of cozying up to extremist members such as Lauren Boebert (R-Ga.) in his pursuit of power.
Kinzinger defended an earlier tweet saying McCarthy was ‘hugging the skunk’ as the Republican Party weighed whether to punish Boebert for Islamophobic comments.
He said the House minority leader was intent on accommodating hardliners in order to curry favor with former President Trump in his quest to become speaker next year.
Mainstream conservatives, he said, were being put off by McCarthy’s embrace of a fringe minority.
‘These aren’t the ones that you know, tweet all the time,’ he told MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ program.
‘They’re not the ones that are going to you know, talk about Jewish space lasers and make, you know, crazy racist jokes just so that they can get more Twitter followers because they don’t take governance seriously.
‘These are actually members of Congress that take governance seriously.’
Rep. Adam Kinzinger accused House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of cozying up to an extremist fringe of Republicans as he seeks the speakership next year
Rep. Lauren Boebert is under scrutiny for an Islamophobic joke she made about Rep. Ilhan Omar, suggesting she was a terrorist. Boebert has apologized
His comments reflect the unease in some quarters at the way Trump loyalists are hogging headlines as they try to reshape the party.
And they come as the House of Representatives considers what action to take against Boebert.
Kinzinger said McCarthy’s calculus was clear.
‘He was the guy that literally brought Donald Trump back to political life,’ he said. ‘Donald Trump was down in Mar-a-Lago kind of like rage press releasing, nobody was paying attention to him.
‘And Kevin McCarthy shows up, takes the paddles and brings him back to life with that picture,’ he said, referring to a picture of the two men meeting.
‘I think he made the decision that: I’m going to embrace Donald Trump so that I can become speaker over the next two years and there is no doubt that people like Marjorie Taylor Green, with crazy tweets and crazy things she says has a hold on the base and can threaten his power.
‘So he’s hugging it. As I said in the tweet, he’s hugging the skunk.’
Like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who blamed wildfires on ‘Jewish space lasers’ and shared QAnon conspiracy theories in the past, Boebert has delighted in stoking outrage since taking up seat this year.
She has drawn widespread criticism and calls for censure in recent days after making an Islamophobic joke about sharing an elevator with Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Former President Trump continues to wield tremendous influence over the Republican Party, as Kinzinger accused McCarthy of ‘hugging the skunk’ to retain his favor
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s tweet also attracted the anger of Kinzinger, who said ‘normal members’ had less chance of speaking to the House minority leader
‘”Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine,'” Boebert recalled while addressing supporters during the holiday break.
“And I said, ‘Oh look, the jihad squad decided to show up for work today.”‘
Boebert tweeted an apology on Friday.
‘I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar. I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly,’ she said.
‘There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction.’
However, it is part of a pattern among a new generation of lawmakers that sees controversy as their currency.
Boebert has delighted in trolling liberals, insisting on her right to bring a gun onto the floor of the House, voting to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory and maintaining a fiery presence on social media in which she insists Biden and Democrats are leading the country to socialism.
McCarthy has not condemned her words but instead offered to facilitate a meeting between Boebert and Omar.
He also defended Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona after they were stripped of committee assignments, for their recent behavior.
Gosar posted a doctored anime cartoon depicting him him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York – a leading female progressive in Congress.
McCarthy said they would have their committee assignments returned if he became speaker after next year’s midterms.
On Friday, Greene tweeted that she had had ‘a good call’ with McCarthy and liked ‘what he has planned ahead.’
A day later Kinzinger criticised that call, writing: ‘Here is real strength, when Kevin McCarthy has to call a freshman begging for permission to stay in power. What has Kevin promised? The people deserve to know.’
And he wondered aloud how often McCarthy was speaking to more mainstream members.
‘Ask some of the normal members when they last talked to Kevin? Been a while for most,’ he tweeted.