Kinzinger: Pence would be ‘the Ron DeSantis’ if he split with Trump

Mike Pence ‘would be the Ron DeSantis right now’ in the 2024 primary if he had SPLIT with Trump, departing Republican Adam Kinzinger claims

  • GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger argued that former Vice President Mike Pence would be stronger politically if he had fully split from former President Donald Trump 
  • ‘Mike Pence, if after January 6, he had fully divorced Donald Trump … he would be the Ron DeSantis right now,’ Kinzinger told The Bulwark’s Charlie Sykes
  • Instead, Pence is polling at just 6 percent among GOP primary voters, with both Trump and DeSantis in the double digits – and Trump ahead  

Departing Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger argued that former Vice President Mike Pence ‘would be the Ron DeSantis right now’ if he had split with former President Donald Trump after January 6. 

Kinzinger made the assessment to Charlie Sykes on The Bulwark’s podcast last week, the same day Trump jumped in the 2024 race, as DeSantis is encroaching on Trump in the polls. 

At the same time, Pence is polling at just 6 percent support among GOP primary voters in the Real Clear Politics polling average

‘Mike Pence, if after January 6, he had fully divorced Donald Trump, and would have gone out and spoken about it, he would be the Ron DeSantis right now,’ Kinzinger said. 

‘He would be the guy that over the last two years was able to make a compelling case to the Republican base who trusts him, even if at the moment they don’t like him, I think he could be the alternative to Donald Trump,’ he continued. ‘Now, I have no idea where he stands.’  

Former Vice President Mike Pence

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

In a podcast interview last week, Rep. Adam Kinzinger argued that former Vice President Mike Pence (left) be ‘the Ron DeSantis (right) right now’ had he simply split from former President Donald Trump after the January 6 MAGA attack 

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who will leave Congress in January, told The Bulwark's Charlie Sykes that former Vice President Mike Pence would be stronger politically had he just divorced himself from former President Donald Trump

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who will leave Congress in January, told The Bulwark’s Charlie Sykes that former Vice President Mike Pence would be stronger politically had he just divorced himself from former President Donald Trump 

Rep. Adam Kinzinger was interviewed the same day former President Donald Trump announced he would be a candidate for the presidency again. Trump is leading with Republican voters, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is gaining ground too

Rep. Adam Kinzinger was interviewed the same day former President Donald Trump announced he would be a candidate for the presidency again. Trump is leading with Republican voters, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is gaining ground too 

Pence is currently making the media rounds to promote his new book, So Help Me God, and also looks poised to make a presidential run. 

‘I have such mixed feelings about Mike Pence,’ Kinzinger told Sykes. 

Kinzinger, one of just two Republicans to sit on the House January 6 select committee, said Pence’s aides were ‘very cooperative’ with the committee’s efforts. ‘So that’s good,’ the Illinois lawmaker offered. 

But Kinzinger also said it was likely too late to have Pence testify before the January 6 committee. 

The Democrat-led committee is winding down its work due to Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives. 

They’re expected to release a report in mid-December before the new Congress begins. 

‘Yes, that day, he did the right thing. Basically, he did what was legal,’ Kinzinger said. ‘The thing I am struggling with on him, I think in his heart he’s a good man, but he didn’t say a damn word for two years after January 6.’ 

‘He gave one speech where he’s like, “I didn’t have a right to overthrow the election,” and that was huge news, OK. But we were doing a lot of stuff that he knew answers to, he could have come in and voluntarily talked to us,’ Kinzinger continued. 

‘He said the president put him in danger,’ the GOP lawmaker added. ‘What is more important to you? Making sure you save some of those surprises for your book or the future of your country?’ 

Kinzinger said Pence taking on Trump for the White House would be ‘fun to watch,’ but Kinzinger also said he wanted answers from the former VP about why he waited two years to talk publicly about January 6. 

He then made the argument that Pence would be stronger politically had he just come out against Trump, instead of being wishy-washy. 

‘It’s almost like Chris Christie, where it’s like, is he pro-Trump or against it, it just depends on what day you ask him,’ Kinzinger pointed out. 

Kinzinger also explained the current DeSantis infatuation, suggesteing it’s because Republicans are more ‘comfortable’ with the Florida governor than the ex-president. 

‘When I go to the Lincoln Day Dinner with the Republican Party, what is going to cause me less consternation – is it supporting Donald Trump or is it DeSantis or is it somebody else?’ Kinzinger said. ‘That’s what the appeal that DeSantis has to so many Republicans, Republican-electeds at least.’ 

‘Is they can say, “Oh, I don’t like Donald Trump’s tone but I’m still cool, I’m stilll cool, I’m with DeSantis, I’m still cool, I want to own the libs, I still want to be an angry yeller, I still use culture war,”‘ Kinzinger said.  

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