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Is He a Masochist? Kinzinger Says It Would Be 'Fun' to Run Against Trump in 2024, Even If He Gets 'Crushed'

AP Photo/ Andrew Harnik, Pool

We all got a good laugh when, as Matt highlighted last November, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said he was thinking of running for president, after the news came out last October that Kinzinger's seat was being affected by redistricting, leading him to retire. As it turns out, Kinzinger is doubling down on the possibility that he'll run for president in 2024, especially if former President Donald Trump also runs. 

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In fact, as the retiring RINO congressman told HuffPost, in a piece by Liz Skalka published earlier this week, he said "I would love it. I really would." He also expressed excitement about it. "Even if he crushed me, like in a primary, to be able to stand up and call out the garbage is just a necessary thing, regardless of who it is. ... I think it’d be fun."

This excerpt, as well as the nearly 3,000 word profile piece, reiterates just how obsessed with Trump that Kinzinger is. It wasn't until Skalka asked Kinzinger about the factor Trump could play in a 2024 presidential run that the congressman expressed much interest. Skalka even said "his eyes instantly widening."

But here's what he first said when asked about running:

Kinzinger may be on the inside of the snow globe looking out, banging on the glass, but he’s found an escape hatch. Rather than compete for a seventh term under a new congressional map that pits him against another incumbent Republican, he’s more than happy to give up this fight. He also knows that he’s been shut out of running for governor or U.S. senator in a state where he’s been censured by his own party. What’s left?

Well, he might run for president.

“So, I look at it this way,” he began after I asked him about this. What followed was the boilerplate response from someone who’s mulling things behind the scenes: “I’ll make a decision when we get there, if there’s a need and a desire. It’s truly not anything I’m planning right now, but I’m not going to rule it out,” he said, his voice rising in such a way at the end that suggested this was supposed to be the main takeaway. “Look, if we’re in a position, if it’s just terrible candidates and the country’s in a worse place? Maybe. But there’s no grand plan right now.”

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Skalka, to her credit, also acknowledges that Kinzinger appears to be obsessed with the former president, especially when it comes to his vote in favor of Trump's second impeachment and the fact that Kinzinger is one of only two Republicans to serve on the January 6 Select Commitee, along with fellow RINO Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). It's worth highlighting that no members picked by the minority party serve on the select committee:

The obsession goes both ways. Kinzinger’s political posture has become entirely about calling out his party and not holding back on Trump. He enrages Republicans and shouts the things Democrats like to imagine most Republicans think but can’t say. He’s called out the “cancer” in the GOP “of lies, of conspiracy, of dishonesty,” blaming it squarely on Trump. He freely tosses out the word “con man” to describe his party’s de facto leader. Kinzinger said his biggest regret in office has been not voting to impeach Trump the first time, when Trump was accused of asking the Ukrainian president to meddle on his behalf in the 2020 election. In 2021, Kinzinger formed a super PAC to collect and spend money on other Republicans willing to defy Trump.

A major takeaway from the article is that the idea of running against Trump in a 2024 GOP primary really gets Kinzinger fired up. CNN's Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza certainly took notice, making it the focus of his piece on Tuesday, as he called Kinzinger's idea "an odd definition of 'fun'!" Cillizza concluded that "Kinzinger has no future in the current Republican Party. That may mean he has nothing left to lose."

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Trump wasn't the only focus of the piece. The headline, though it did reference Kinzinger wanting to run against Trump, also included a comment from Kinzinger that he is "slow ghosting" Congress. A common thread of the piece is certainly how much doom and gloom there is, with Kinzinger himself speaking of a "coldness."

Further, Kinzinger doesn't even know what political party he is. He gave a whole myriad of answers. 

"I think mentally I feel more like an independent than a Republican. If there were more Democrats like [House Majority Leader] Steny Hoyer, I could probably identify in that area, some kind of a moderate Democrat. In essence, I guess I’m still comfortable holding the Republican label for now. Because as much as people love it or hate it, the Republican Party is going to be around for a while, and it deserves to have a battle for who it is," he offered. 

Skalka also pointed out that she "asked Kinzinger if there’s a policy or position in the GOP that still resonates for him, anything to grasp on to now. He struggled to find the answer." The congressman blamed it on the GOP. "I don’t really know, because I don’t really know what the party stands for anymore," he claimed. He ultimately said "I guess spending?"

That being said, the piece later has him claiming while he doesn't know, he's not a Democrat. "I don’t know. I don’t know what I identify with anymore. I’m just not a Democrat," Skalka closes her piece by quoting Kinzinger as saying.

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Which is it then?

When it comes to Kinzinger's seat being affected by redistricting, thanks to Illinois state Democrats, he doesn't seem all that cut up about it. As the congressman himself put it, "my time in the House is, mercifully, coming to an end."

What is Rep. Kinzinger doing in Congress anymore? It seems that he doesn't even know. 

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