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 TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy 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 SandersGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist, along with former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperLeft off debate stage, Bullock all-in on Iowa Yang says he would not run as a third-party candidate The Hill's Morning Report - Hurricane Dorian devastates the Bahamas, creeps along Florida coast MORE, a more moderate Democratic candidate.

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegO'Rourke responds to Buttigieg's gun criticism: 'That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place' Buttigieg: Biden gave 'bad' debate answer on slavery's legacy O'Rourke's debate moment reignites gun debate on Sunday shows 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 WarrenGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Democrats spar over electoral appeal of 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Mass.) repeatedly clashing with more moderate candidates over issues such as health care.