Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal backers in Congress, has issued a profanity-laced response and challenge on Feb. 10 to an anti-Trump Republican who has started a new political action committee (PAC) that may seek to oust Gaetz in a primary election.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, recently started a new PAC backing anti-Trump Republicans for the purpose of defeating GOP lawmakers who support the former president.
“Adam is a patriot who fought for America from Northwest Florida. We will always appreciate & honor his service. Now, he wants to target my America First politics, referencing me by name,” Gaetz wrote on Twitter on Feb. 10.
“My response: [expletive] bring it. Adam needs PACs to win elections. I don’t.”
Kinzinger’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
Kinzinger announced the start of his PAC on Jan. 31.
“The Republican Party has lost its way,” Kinzinger said in a video posted on the website of his Country First PAC.
In the six-minute video, which mentions neither Trump’s name nor any specific policy issues, Kinzinger appears to equate the mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the Republican Party. The Illinois Republican also alleged, without offering examples or evidence, that Republicans have embraced conspiracy theories, outrage, and the politics of personality.
Kinzinger is one of 10 Republicans who may face primary challengers backed by the Fight Back Now America PAC, which was started by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. The PAC will first focus on defeating Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who issued a scathing statement critical of Trump ahead of her vote to impeach the then-president.
Gaetz campaigned in Wyoming last month against Cheney with support from Donald Trump Jr., who spoke to the rally crowd via speakerphone. Gaetz recently said he would be willing to give up his House seat to defend the president in the Senate impeachment trial.
The other House Republicans who joined Kinzinger in voting to impeach Trump are Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), John Katko (N.Y.), Peter Meijer (Mich.), Dan Newhouse (Wash.), Tom Rice (S.C.), Fred Upton (Mich.), and David Valadao (Calif.).
Support for Trump remains significant in Congress and among voters despite Democrats’ attempts to impeach the former president over the violence that unfolded at the Capitol last month. Ninety-five percent of Republicans in the House voted against impeachment, while in the Senate, 44 Republicans voted on Feb. 9 against proceeding with the impeachment trial. More than 4 in 5 GOP voters hold a favorable view of Trump, according to a Morning Consult poll released on Jan. 27.
Kinzinger has been a vocal Trump critic and was the only Republican to vote for a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump. He told The Washington Post last month that he has felt isolated from his party in the aftermath of his impeachment vote.