Liz Cheney Is Ready to Lose. But She’s Not Ready to Quit.
Cheyenne, Wyoming — Her primary election is more than a month away, but Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming is nowhere near where voters are weighing her future.
Instead, Ms. Cheney huddled with other lawmakers and aides in the Capitol, supporting her allies in a cause she considered more important than her House seat: removing American politics from former President Donald J. Trump and his Influence of influence.
“The nine of us have done more than any group to date to prevent Trump from returning to power,” she told a panel investigating Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. “We can’t relax.”
The most-watched primary of 2022 isn’t a race at all. Polls show Ms Cheney losing badly to her rival Harriet Hagman, a revenge vehicle for Mr Trump, while the congresswoman was nearly kicked out of her Trump-loving state, Part of the reason was death threats, her office said.
For Ms Cheney, however, the race was no longer about political survival a few months ago. Instead, she used the August 16 race as a high-profile stage for her martyrdom — and a testing ground for her new crusade. She used the only debate to tell voters to “vote for someone else” if they wanted a politician who broke their inaugural oath.Last week, she invited her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney an ad Calling Mr Trump a “coward” represents the greatest threat to the United States in the history of the Republic.
In a state where Mr. Trump won 70 percent of the vote two years ago, Ms. Cheney might as well require ranchers to become vegan.
“If the cost of defending the Constitution is losing a seat in the House, then that’s the price I’m willing to pay,” she said in an interview this week in Cheyenne’s conference room.
The 56-year-old politician’s daughter once had a vision of becoming the top leadership of the House of Representatives — but has since become vice president — arguably the most important rank-and-file member of the modern Congress. Few have used the leverage of the office so aggressively to try to change the course of American politics—but in doing so, she effectively sacrificed her future at the institution she grew up adoring.
Ms. Cheney’s relentless focus on Mr. Trump has sparked speculation — even among longtime family friends — that she is preparing to run for president. She hardly stopped this conversation.
At a house party in Cheyenne on Thursday night, former Vice President Dick Cheney gleefully looked at a pair of finished leather pants, and the host introduced Ms. Cheney, recalling another Republican woman, Senator Marco of Maine. How Gretel Chase Smith confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy. Doing so is unpopular — and becoming the first female presidential candidate from a major party.
While Ms. Cheney smiled, attendees applauded in parallel.
In the interview, she said she’s focused on her primary — and her work on the committee. But it’s unclear if she’d be a viable candidate for the current Republican Party, or if she’d be interested in a donor-level program involving third-party bids, in part because she knew it might just siphon votes away from the Democratic opposition to Trump gentlemen.
Ms. Cheney said she had no interest in changing parties: “I’m a Republican.” But when asked if the Republican Party she grew up could be saved in the short term, she said: “Probably not,” adding that her party” heavy sick”.
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The party “continues to push itself into a ditch, and I think it will take a few more cycles if it can heal,” she said.
Ms. Cheney said she was as passionate about Trumpism as Trump himself. She said she could support a Republican for president in 2024, but her red line was refusing to make it clear that Mr. Trump lost a legitimate election in 2020.
When asked if the no-go zone candidate included Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who many Republicans have targeted as Trump’s replacement, she said she “would find it difficult to “Support Mr DeSantis in the general election.
“I think Ron DeSantis is almost entirely on Donald Trump’s side, which I think is very dangerous,” Ms Cheney said.
Other voices about the White House bid were easily heard in Ms Cheney’s rhetoric.
At Cheyenne, she conveyed the concerns of “moms” and what she described as a desire for “capable people.” Ms. Cheney, who once largely despised identity politics, is the only female lawmaker who won’t pose for a photo of women in Congress after 2018 — and she’s now free to discuss gender and her views as a mother.
“Men rule the world for the most part these days, and it’s really not very good,” she said in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, in June.
Ms. Cheney’s political awakening went beyond her disdain for Mr. Trump, a sign that she preferred Democratic women with a national security background to the right wing of her party.
“I’d much rather serve with Mikie Sherrill, Chrissy Houlahan and Elissa Slotkin than Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, although in substance I’m definitely at odds with the Democratic women I just mentioned,” Ms. Cheney said in an interview said in. “But they love the country, they do their homework, they are the people who try to do the right thing for the country.”
Ms. Cheney is more certain about her diagnosis of GOP problems than her prescription for reform.
She didn’t wait for post-Congress political organization and benefited from Democratic donors whose feelings could be fleeting. To the dismay of some allies, she has not expanded her inner circle beyond her family and a handful of close advisers. Never a small talker, she said she longed for her reminiscences of her father’s era of policy-focused politics.
“What this country needs is serious people who are willing to engage in policy debate,” Ms Cheney said.
It’s all a far cry from the Lizzie Cheney of a decade ago, who has a contract to appear regularly on Fox News and will use her as Sean Hannity’s guest host to showcase her unwavering conservativeness Views and brutality of former President Barack Obama and Democrats.
Today, Ms. Cheney did not admit to feeling particularly sorry for helping to create the atmosphere that led to Trump taking over her party. However, she did admit that “I committed a reflexive partisanship”, noting that January 6 “shows how dangerous this is”.
Few lawmakers today face these dangers as often as Ms. Cheney, who has had a full-time Capitol Police security staff for nearly a year because of threats to her — few ordinary lawmakers are protected. No longer giving advance notice of her Wyoming trip, and unpopular at most county and state Republican events, she turned her campaign into a series of invite-only House parties.
Even more puzzling than her schedule is why Ms. Cheney, who has raised more than $13 million, hasn’t put more money into the game, especially in the early days when she had a chance to define Ms. Hagerman. As of early July, Cheney had spent about half of her funds, prompting speculation that she was saving for future efforts to counter Trump.
Ms. Cheney stopped attending House Republicans a long time ago. While in the Capitol, she spent most of her Jan. 6 panel with Democrats and made frequent trips to the Lindy Boggs Room, a reception room for female lawmakers, rather than the House floor for the male-dominated House Republican session. . Some members of the Jan. 6 panel were struck by how often her Zoom background was her suburban Virginia home.
In Washington, even some Republicans eager to get rid of Trump have questioned Ms. Cheney’s decision to wage an open war against her own party. They argue that she is limiting her future influence.
“It depends on whether you want to go out honorably and be ineffective, or try to be effective,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who has his own future leadership ambitions. “I respect her, but I wouldn’t make the same choice.”
Ms. Cheney noted that the Jan. 6 investigation, along with the prime-time hearing, was seen by critics as an opportunity to grab attention. She turned down some opportunities that might have helped her achieve her ambitions, especially an offer from a documentary filmmaker.
Still, for skeptics at home, Ms. Cheney’s attack on Mr. Trump has resurfaced cryptic questions about her relationship with the country and sparked criticism that she has left Washington and embraced the opposition. concerns, refuting the political views of those voters who gave their support. She and her father started their electoral politics.
During a march in Casper last month as Ms. Cheney prepared for her hearing in Washington, Ms. Hagerman was regularly applauded by voters who said the incumbent president was lost.
“She has a decent voting record,” said Casper resident Julie Hitt. “But most of her focus is on January 6.”
“She’s in bed with Democrats, Pelosi and all of them,” chimed in Ms Hitt’s husband, Bruce Hitt.
Notably, none of the voters interviewed at the parade mentioned Ms. Cheney’s support for a gun-control bill passed by the House a few weeks ago — a betrayal that would anger Republicans in Wyoming, who in this day and age, Policies are more dominant than a person’s image.
“Her vote on the gun bill received little publicity,” said Mike Sullivan, a former Democratic governor of Wyoming, who planned to vote for Ms. Cheney in the primary. (Ms. Cheney is pushing for independents and Democrats to re-register as Republicans, at least long enough to vote for her in the primary.)
For Ms. Cheney, a year and a half since the Capitol attack, any sense of confusion about the moment — when Republican royal Cheney was effectively read out of the party — has faded.
When Cheney attended the funeral of former Wyoming Senator Mike Enzie last year, Ms. Cheney welcomed a delegation of Republican senators. She recalled that as she greeted them one by one, several praised her for her bravery and told her to keep fighting Mr. Trump.
She didn’t miss the opportunity to remind them in a targeted manner: they too could join her.
“There are so many moments like this,” she said at the bank, a hint of weariness in her voice.