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Van Drew hammers Democratic left turn at RNC
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Van Drew hammers Democratic left turn at RNC

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President Donald Trump "Keep America Great" Rally

Jeff Van Drew and President Donald Trump hold a 'Keep America Great' Rally on Jan. 28 at the Wildwoods Convention Center.

{child_flags:top_story}{child_flags:topical}Van Drew criticizes his former party

{child_byline}MICHELLE BRUNETTI POST

Staff Writer

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The day after speaking at the Republican National Convention, U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd, said the experience was exciting and moving.

“What was powerful was the number of real-life stories with real people,” he said of speakers who talked about prison reform, rescuing Americans held overseas and other issues. “You had to be moved.”

Van Drew’s four-minute speech, the first time in recent memory that a South Jersey politician was highlighted at a national convention, focused on what he sees as a radical shift to the left by his former Democratic Party. That shift caused him to leave it in 2019, he said.

He recorded his speech from a podium in Washington, D.C., and then attended the White House speeches by President Donald Trump and a few others.

Van Drew opened his speech by talking about being recruited to run for local office more than 20 years ago. He said he told the recruiters he held middle-of-the-road to conservative views but was welcomed by the Democratic Party of the time.

“The local leaders said the Democratic Party was a big tent and accepted people like me,” Van Drew said. “But as I won seats to county office, state Legislature and then Congress, I noticed things were changing.”

He said the party had become less accepting of American tradition, less believing in American exceptionalism and less supportive of traditional faith and family.

In 2018, he said he was already uncomfortable with “San Francisco liberal” Nancy Pelosi running the House of Representatives, and with the new members of “The Squad,” such as newly elected New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seeming to run the party.

“The Democratic Party was not just for higher taxes, now they were for open borders, against the police and against our God-given rights,” Van Drew said.

When the party told him he’d never be allowed to run again if he voted against impeachment of Trump, Van Drew said he wouldn’t be bullied.

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“Listen, I’m from South Jersey, and you’d better come at me with more than just loud words and empty threats,” Van Drew said. “I voted no on impeachment, and it was an easy call.”

That led to meetings with the president, and changing parties, he said.

Van Drew is running for reelection against Democrat Amy Kennedy, of Brigantine, a mental health advocate and wife of former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy.

“It was not a whole lot different than I expected,” Kennedy said of Van Drew’s speech.

She said everywhere she goes people are talking about health care and the economy, not party politics.

“I thought that for somebody who talks a lot about being bipartisan it was very much the Trump talking points and just another example of how he has traded parties for his own self interest,” Kennedy said. “It’s very similar to the rally we saw (in Wildwood) ... yet we haven’t seen any payoff for the people of South Jersey.”

State Sen. Michael Testa Jr., R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said he appreciated Van Drew’s speech and said it showed his courage in leaving the Democratic Party.

“He realizes exactly who is in control of the party he left. The Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosis and Chuck Schumers of the world are a far cry from the party of JFK,” Testa said.

Former President John F. Kennedy is the uncle of Amy Kennedy’s husband.

Van Drew said Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden “will not be ready, willing or able” to resist pressure from radicals.

“As Joe says, ‘Come on, man,’” Van Drew said. “Joe Biden is being told what to do by the radicals running my former party, the same radicals trying to install him as their puppet president.”

Earlier in the day, Van Drew said he planned to talk about his campaign theme of a strong America.

“Americans are a good people,” Van Drew said. “One of the problems of the Democratic convention (last week) was, there was a sourness there. You could tangibly feel it — it was about everything that was wrong.”

Van Drew said America can always do better, but overall, “Americans should feel good about themselves, the country and the future.”

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Contact: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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