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Ex-Democrat Van Drew speaks at GOP convention

Ex-Democrat Van Drew speaks at GOP convention
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GOP Rep. Jeff Van DrewJeff Van DrewThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump to leave Walter Reed l Post-debate polls show Biden building big lead l Coronavirus concerns ahead of VP debate Democrat-turned-Republican Van Drew trails Amy Kennedy in New Jersey House race: poll The Hill's Campaign Report: 19 years since 9/11 | Dem rival to Marjorie Taylor Greene drops out | Collin Peterson faces fight of his career | Court delivers blow to ex-felon voting rights in Florida MORE (N.J.), who defected from the Democratic Party last year, spoke at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, explaining his party-switch and seeking to boost President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE

Van Drew, who was elected to the House as a Democrat in the 2018 “blue wave” and was a member of the party for nearly 30 years, tore into the Democratic Party as one that was becoming “radical.”

“I was elected to Council as a Democrat, but as I won seats for county office, state legislature and then Congress, I noticed things were changing — the Democrat Party had become less accepting of American tradition, less believing in American exceptionalism, less supportive of traditional faith and family,” he said. "This was not the party that I knew.” 

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Van Drew said he was immediately uncomfortable with the leadership of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo On The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Overnight Health Care: CDC expands definition of 'close contact' after COVID-19 report | GOP coronavirus bill blocked in Senate | OxyContin maker agrees to B settlement with Trump administration MORE (D-Calif.) and the rise of progressive lawmakers, and that he faced pressure to vote in support of Trump’s impeachment.

“In 2018 after being elected to Congress as a Democrat, I was already uncomfortable with a San Francisco liberal running the House, which is why my first vote in Congress was cast against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. But imagine how I felt after seeing members of The Squad quickly take control of the Democrat Party just weeks after being elected,” he said. “The party had moved from liberal to radical.” 

“This new Democrat Party wasn't just for higher taxes. Now they were for open borders, against our police and against our God-given rights,” the New Jersey lawmaker added. “When the radical Democrats went after President Trump with impeachment, they made another mistake: Democrat leaders told me that I had to vote for impeachment or my life would be made difficult, and I wouldn't be allowed to run again.”

Van Drew went on to praise Trump’s tenure in office, saying the White House has advocated for a string of policies to boost the military, law enforcement and more. 

“Republicans, independents, and even Democrats, they all know that in President Trump's America, we have a strong military, strong support for our police, strong support for our Veterans and Seniors,” he said. “In President Trump's America, we have a strong supply chain, good schools, we're energy independent and protect our environment.”

The remarks praising Trump come as Van Drew faces a stiff challenge from Democrat Amy Kennedy in his south Jersey district. Polling has shown a margin-of-error race in one of the Democrat’s top offensive targets, and the Cook Political Report rates the race as a “toss up.”