Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a former New Jersey Democrat who switched to the GOP ahead of his successful reelection last week, praised and thanked President Donald Trump on Monday for contributing to Republican electoral gains.
“It’s like, they have that saying, ripping the Band-Aid off and seeing what’s underneath,” Van Drew told “Fox & Friends,” adding he believes “the president broke everything open” to build a new Republican Party.
“[Trump] did that and he showed the seamy side, quite frankly, of politics,” Van Drew added.
The New Jersey incumbent rose to prominence a year ago amid the partisan impeachment of President Trump, becoming the first Democrat to speak out against it publicly.
In December, Van Drew met with Trump at the White House, where the president reportedly encouraged him to switch to the GOP. Shortly thereafter, he made the switch after he said he was told by Democratic Party leaders he had to vote to impeach Trump.
“One of the county chairmen came to me and said, ‘I have to speak with you.’ And I said, ‘sure’ and sat down,” Van Drew told Fox News at the time.
“He said, ‘I just want to let you know that you have to vote for impeachment.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You’ve got to vote for impeachment. If you don’t, you’re not going to be able to run in my county,’” he said.
“For all the years that I have worked so hard and tried to give so much, not only to the party but to everybody…. it all boils down to one vote, that I may have my own individual opinion on one vote and that is not going to be allowed? I’m going to be punished for that? And that’s when I knew,” Van Drew noted further, adding that his former party’s shift to the left also led to his decision.
In his Fox & Friends interview Monday, Van Drew also praised Trump for improving the nature of politics for Americans.
“He showed how politics could be better, that you really could work and fight for the average person,” he said.
He also added that “the people who vote, the average, everyday working people out there need to be listened to and not forgotten about and certainly not looked down upon and that was happening a great deal.”
Van Drew also thumped polls that had Democrat Joe Biden up by a lot heading into Election Day — polls that were, for a second straight election cycle, way off.
Those polls showed “how much Donald Trump was just going to get thrashed” and that he would “lose terribly,” but “basically he got half the vote.”
He added the same polls said “we were going to lose much more of the House,” but “that didn’t happen at all.”
Van Drew also said pollsters predicted he would lose to Democrat Amy Kennedy “because somebody who changes their party never wins,” but “that didn’t happen,” noting that “we’re winning by a great majority.”
Fox News reported that Van Drew is beating Kennedy by nearly 15,400 votes, 51-46 percent respectively, with some 80 percent of ballots counted.
“The polls “were wrong about everything,” and “the people knew,” the New Jersey lawmaker said.
As for the party that Trump built, Van Drew says he’s optimistic moving forward.
“This new Republican Party is about really having that relationship with the average, everyday person, with real people, making sure that we have government that works for them, that we don’t just keep increasing taxes, that we don’t just keep pushing more and more programs that don’t really, in the end, help anybody but bureaucrats,” he said.
“We can do so much better.”
Van Drew also blasted the country’s electoral systems.
“I feel like I’ve gone back to the 1900s,” he said. “We’re able to decode DNA, we’re going to put people on Mars and on the moon, but we can’t have an election system that works accurately quickly and electronically? That’s nonsense.”
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