GOP senator on Democratic candidates: 'The lesser of two socialists is still a socialist'

GOP senator on Democratic candidates: 'The lesser of two socialists is still a socialist'
© Stefani Reynolds

GOP Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) on Wednesday blasted Democrats who appeared in the party's presidential debate the previous night, declaring "the lesser of two socialists is still a socialist."

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"I'm not buying the storyline of progressive versus moderate," Kennedy said during an interview on Fox News, weighing the dynamics of the Tuesday night debate in Detroit.

"I would remind you that the lesser of two socialists is still a socialist," he continued. "Even from the less liberal candidates, I heard a job-killing, soul-crushing socialist agenda."

The remark drew attention on social media, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE sharing the comments in a tweet.

Former Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday similarly called the candidates socialists in a tweet that showed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump, Biden clash over health care as debate begins Biden calls Trump a 'liar' and a 'clown' at first debate Biden mocks Trump campaign debate claims: 'I've got my earpiece and performance enhancers ready' MORE (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist, along with former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Cook Political Report shifts Colorado Senate race toward Democrat Willie Nelson playing at virtual fundraiser for Hickenlooper MORE, a more moderate Democratic candidate.

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegCindy McCain joins board of Biden's presidential transition team Billionaire who donated to Trump in 2016 donates to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - GOP closes ranks to fill SCOTUS vacancy by November MORE has pushed back on the label in recent weeks, something he continued to do during the debate Tuesday night.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., warned that Republicans would likely call Democrats "socialists" regardless of what they propose on issues such as health care, arguing that Democrats should instead advocate “the right policy.”

“It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say,” Buttigieg said. “It's true that if we embrace a far-left agenda, they're gonna say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they're gonna do? ... They're gonna say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. So let's just stand up for the right policy, go out there and defend it.”

Kennedy pushed back on the Democratic candidates Wednesday, asserting on Fox News that the country would soon have to choose between "more freedom or more free stuff."

“At the rate my Democratic friends are going, the American people are going to have a very stark choice beyond this election," he said. "It’s going to be growth versus redistribution. It’s going to do you believe in more freedom or more free stuff.”

Sanders, Buttigieg and Hickenlooper joined seven other candidates on the debate stage Tuesday, with another 10 slated to appear for another debate Wednesday night.

Tuesday's debate featured Sanders and fellow progressive Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren won't meet with Barrett, calling Trump's nomination an 'illegitimate power grab' The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's tax bombshell | More election drama in Pennsylvania | Trump makes up ground in new polls New Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments MORE (D-Mass.) repeatedly clashing with more moderate candidates over issues such as health care.