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 TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' 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 SandersBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record The Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary MORE (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist, along with former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperHickenlooper raised .8 million for Colorado Senate bid in fourth quarter of 2019 George Conway group releases ad targeting GOP senator: 'You're just another Trump servant' The 5 most vulnerable senators in 2020 MORE, a more moderate Democratic candidate.

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Environmental activists interrupt Buttigieg in New Hampshire Pence to visit Iowa days before caucuses 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 Ann WarrenThe Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Environmental activists interrupt Buttigieg in New Hampshire Pence to visit Iowa days before caucuses MORE (D-Mass.) repeatedly clashing with more moderate candidates over issues such as health care.