Kinzinger the ‘homeless Republican’ launches ad campaign against extremism

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Adam Kinzinger is gone from Congress and the Jan. 6 committee, but he’s still raging against what he sees as dangerous political extremism.

The Illinois Republican’s political organization is launching a nationwide campaign urging voters to reject extreme candidates on both sides of the aisle ahead of the 2024 election. The centerpiece of the campaign is a nearly six-minute-long short film titled “Break Free,” inspired by Apple’s “1984” Super Bowl ad about escaping the conformity of non-Apple computers.

In the political ad’s twist, people are forced to wear blue- and red-tinted goggles showing them divisive images and broadcasts from a “Big Brother”-type character until they take them off and escape. A monologue from Kinzinger urges Americans to reject political extremes.

“What we’re showing, by the video, is we’ve been programmed so much to believe that there’s only two choices to everything, that the other side is our enemy, that each event in the world should be seen through blue or red glasses,” Kinzinger said in an interview. “And we’re saying there’s a completely different way.”

He said the nationwide campaign’s rollout, which will include TV, digital, billboard and guerilla marketing, will involve spending as close to “a quarter million [dollars] or more.” Shorter versions of the video will be displayed too.

And as an example of what Kinzinger described as “performance art,” people have been spotted around Capitol Hill wearing the all-white costumes from the video. The former congressman said the display was also meant to draw attention to how many lawmakers on Capitol Hill were just “looking for that next social media opportunity, and not actually trying to do what their constituents need.”

“It’s just another way to put that in perspective,” he added. “And it’s a little creepy too.”

Kinzinger broke with his party after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, eventually serving as one of two Republicans on the select panel investigating the insurrection. He now identifies as a “homeless Republican.”

Asked about the select panel’s unfinished business, he said his “working assumption” was that the Department of Justice and Senate Democrats might be able to carry on the investigative mantle from the select panel, which sunsetted at the end of the last Congress.

“The Senate needs to pick up that slack,” he said.

There were still investigative leads to pursue with the Secret Service, Kinzinger said, and with former President Donald Trump’s social media manager Dan Scavino, who had resisted the select panel’s subpoena and was eventually held in contempt of Congress. He did agree, however, that the Jan. 6 select committee had acted correctly in not further pushing former Vice President Mike Pence’s testimony, saying it would have taken up “a ton of energy for probably, as far as we were concerned, probably not a ton of information that’s useful.”

“There’s a lot of those kinds of loose ends that, while I’m impressed at the committee’s ability to put together what we were able to do ... if we had more time or infinite time, I think we could have done a lot more,” Kinzinger said.

Kinzinger didn’t close the door to running for office again, though he said it wouldn’t be in the near future.

“There’s a good chance I run for something again someday,” he said. “But I definitely need to take a good breather and a reset and focus on my wife and kid right now.”