In a brief speech as part of the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew said he switched parties because of what he considered the Democrat's “radical, socialist agenda" after he won re-election in 2018.

Van Drew, who represents New Jersey's 2nd Congressional district, changed his political party affiliation to Republican with the support of President Donald Trump late last year. He said he has always leaned conservative but was told by Democrats who asked him to run for a town council seat when he was a dentist that the party was a "big tent" that would accept him.

"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," Van Drew said.

Van Drew said that when he won reelection in 2018 he was uncomfortable with Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker and voted against her.

He said the rise in of "The Squad" in the House, a group of progressive Democratic women elected in 2018 including freshman Rep. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, made him begin to reconsider his affiliation with the party.

"The party had moved from liberal to radical. The new Democratic party wasn't just for higher taxes, they were for open borders, against our police and against our God-given rights," Van Drew said.

Van Drew said the deal was sealed for him when Democratic leadership told him life would be difficult for him and threatened his re-election if he did not vote for President Donald Trump's impeachment. Van Drew was one of two Democrats to vote against impeachment. He met with Trump after the vote and made the decision to switch parties.

Trump welcomed Van Drew to the party with a campaign rally in Wildwood in January that drew thousands to Convention Hall.

"When the Democrats tried to order me around, I was ready, willing and able to say I've had enough with their radical, socialist agenda," Van Drew continued. "Do you really believe Joe Biden is ready, willing – and most of all – able to do the same?"

Biden would the the "puppet president" of the "radicals" of the Democratic party if he wins the election, Van Drew claimed.

Van Drew said there are "a lot of Democrats who support our president and are disgusted for what their old party has become."

Amy Kennedy, his opponent for re-election, in a statement said Van Drew’s speech was “political payback for switching parties and pledging his undying support to Donald Trump. "

"The truth is that Jeff has changed. He made the choice to abandon the people of South Jersey to serve his own political career instead of the families he was elected to represent," Kennedy said in an email.

New Jersey Democrats took the opportunity of Van Drew's speech to again criticize his party flip.

Gov. Phil Murphy endorsed Kennedy for the seat on his personal Twitter account.

"Tonight Jeff Van Drew gets his payback for abandoning our party and our values and joining the GOP, with a prime speaking role at the RNC. It's never been more clear that South Jersey needs @AmyKennedy715 in Congress," Murphy wrote.

"Jeff Van Drew sold out his district and his country to help Donald Trump. He thought it would boost his re-election prospects, but we'll prove him wrong in November," U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said on Twitter.

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