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GOP representative blasts members of his party who compare COVID-19 vaccines to Nazism as ‘clown politicians’

Representative Adam Kinzinger.Al Drago/Bloomberg

Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger denounced members of his own party who have likened COVID-19 vaccination efforts to Nazi Germany as “absolute clown politicians” and called on the party’s leadership to counter their claims by encouraging vaccinations.

In an appearance on CNN over the weekend, Kinzinger was asked for his response to Republican House members who are comparing door-to-door vaccination initiatives to Nazism.

“It’s insanity,” the representative from Illinois said. “It’s absolute insanity. Now what President Biden said, and maybe he could have said it slightly differently, is we’re willing to come to your house to give you the vaccine. At no point was anybody saying they’re going to break down your door and jam a vaccine in your arm despite your protest. This is outrage politics that has been played by my party and it’s going to get Americans killed.”

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In a speech last week, President Biden discussed strategies to shift from mass vaccination efforts to community-based initiatives that aim to reach unvaccinated people at their homes.

“Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and ofttimes door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus,” Biden said.

Biden’s comments prompted outrage among extremist members of the Republican party, including Representatives Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Greene, who has promoted antisemitic conspiracy theories and been stripped of her committee assignments for racist, violent remarks, has repeatedly compared vaccination efforts to Nazi Germany. In a tweet in response to Biden’s speech, Greene said Biden “pushing a vaccine that is not FDA approved shows covid is a political tool used to control people” and said people don’t need “medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations.”

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Members of the militia that helped Adolf Hitler rise to power were known as “brown shirts.” The three vaccines that are in use in the United States have been approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. COVID-19 vaccination efforts bear no resemblance or remote similarity to Nazism, the ideology that led to the Holocaust in which more than 6 million Jewish people were killed.

Kinzinger said comparing vaccination initiatives to Nazism shows the Republican party “has been hijacked.”

“It is on its way to the ground,” Kinzinger said about the GOP. “For some people it’s a fun ride, right? ‘We can put out this outrageous stuff on Twitter. Yeah, I’m getting all these retweets and everybody knows me. I’m famous.’ But this plane is going to crash into the ground. Listen, if you’re a Republican voter, do not listen to people like Marjorie Taylor Greene. The vaccine is safe. COVID is real. Get vaccinated.”

Kinzinger also called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican leadership to denounce those like Greene who are pushing misinformation about the vaccines and encourage Americans to get their shots.

“I call on Leader McCarthy, I call on every leader in the Republican Party to stand up, say ‘get vaccinated,’ and to call out these garbage politicians, these absolute clown politicians playing on your vaccine fears for their own selfish gain.”

Kinzinger’s call has taken on new urgency as rates of COVID rise again in parts of the United States, often driven by the fast-spreading Delta variant. Areas of the country with low vaccination rates like Arkansas and Missouri are seeing a particularly sharp increase.

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Kinzinger has been an outspoken member of the party and has broken with the majority of House Republicans on key votes, including voting in favor of impeaching former president Donald Trump in January and voting in June to form a select committee to study the Jan. 6 insurrection.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.