PEORIA — When U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, appeared on CNN on Wednesday evening and told host Wolf Blitzer that he couldn't support Donald Trump for president, his language mirrored concerns expressed during an interview with the Journal Star back in May.
"I don't see how I can get there any more," Kinzinger said on the program, citing Trump's resistance to NATO's attack-on-one-is-an-attack-on-all policy and his recent, prolonged and public spat with the family of fallen soldier Humayun Khan.
"I'm an American before I'm a Republican," Kinzinger said, outlining the "red lines" he felt Trump had crossed.
Talking to the Journal Star in May, during the state Republican Party convention in Peoria, Kinzinger, who represents Putnam County and part of Stark County, used the same phrase:
"I'm an American before I'm a Republican. I'm a Republican because I think it's the best way to defend what I think America should stand for. And when there's a front-runner articulating directly the opposite of what I believe and what made me a Republican, I can't automatically support him."
He continued: "What I have spent six years respectfully attacking President Obama on ... is that our enemies don't fear us and our allies don't trust us. Republicans cheer when you say that. And then Donald Trump comes out and articulates our enemies not fearing us and our allies not trusting us.
Kinzinger's threshold was, in part, Trump being able to dispense with "outlandish" comments and act like "somebody worthy of the job of Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln."
To do that, "I don't have to agree with the guy on everything. I'm a big believer that if two people agree on everything, they're probably not being honest with each other. But, be a statesman. This job is the most powerful, most important job in the world. It is not a show. It is not a game."
Chris Kaergard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard