Liz Cheney’s anti-Trump crusade heads into uncharted territory, perilous political terrain
She was kicked to the curb by Wyoming Republican voters and Rep. Liz Cheney’s next chapter — to rid the GOP of former President Donald Trump and his acolytes — promises to be an even rougher ride.
The daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and undisputed face of the Trump “resistance” within her Republican Party, Ms. Cheney took her expected loss in stride. She said she’s thinking about a 2024 presidential run. At the very least, she vowed to deliver her anti-Trump message to every corner of the GOP.
The problem is, there’s no indication that any Republicans are listening to her.
A national YouGov poll released two weeks before Ms. Cheney’s primary defeat on Tuesday found just 34% of those surveyed held a favorable view of her — and most of those were Democrats. Among the GOP, she held a staggering 51% “very unfavorable” rating.
Asked whether Ms. Cheney has an audience at this point, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said she “absolutely” does — then rattled off the locations of elite liberal university towns.
“Cambridge, New Haven, Berkeley, the part of Philadelphia that is [home to] the University of Pennsylvania,” Mr. Gingrich told The Washington Times. “I am sure they will be wildly enthusiastic. They don’t like Wyoming anyway.”
It was Wyoming Republicans who delivered the shuddering blow to Ms. Cheney, ousting her in favor of Harriet Hageman, who more than doubled the incumbent’s voting total, 66% to 29%, to run away with the GOP nomination for the state’s only House seat. That includes Natrona County where the high school football field in Casper is named after her father, the former vice president.
A year earlier, House Republicans ousted Ms. Cheney from the No. 3 leadership post after she voted to impeach Mr. Trump and then repeatedly shot verbal barbs at him. After that, the Wyoming GOP voted to no longer recognize her as a Republican.
Ms. Cheney said she could have “easily” won again if she backed Mr. Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, but she said she will not “enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic.”
In her concession speech, she sketched out a vision in which Republicans, Democrats and independents unite behind her push to remove what she considers the cancer of Mr. Trump and Trumpism in a fight to defend Democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law.
She said she took solace in how President Abraham Lincoln kept fighting after he lost a bid for the U.S. Senate before he won the presidency, and how Gen. Ulysses S. Grant refused to quit despite massive troop losses in the Civil War.
“Lincoln and Grant and all who fought in our nation’s tragic Civil War, including my own great-great-grandfathers, saved our union,” Ms. Cheney said. “Their courage saved freedom. And if we listen closely, they are speaking to us down the generations.”
“We must not idly squander what so many have fought and died for,” she said.
Mr. Trump celebrated her loss.
“Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself, the way she acted, and her spiteful, sanctimonious words and actions towards others,” Mr. Trump said on his Truth Social site. “Now she can finally disappear into the depths of political oblivion where, I am sure, she will be much happier than she is right now.”
Ms. Cheney has other ideas.
She told NBC soon after her loss that she is “thinking” of running for president in 2024 and on Wednesday she established a new political action committee called the Great Task, which is a nod to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
If the YouGov polling is accurate, those ventures will have more reception among people who already dislike Mr. Trump. That chiefly means Democrats, 23% of whom gave her a “very favorable” rating in the survey, compared to just 11% of independents and 7% of Republicans.
Robert L. Kuttner, founder of The American Prospect, a magazine dedicated to liberalism, said Democrats should be cautious in their rush to embrace Ms. Cheney as their favorite Republican.
“For starters, let’s remember who Liz Cheney is. Substantively, she’s still a right-wing Republican who has supported policies of endless war; and until she became a born-again constitutionalist, she voted with Trump 90% of the time,” Mr. Kuttner wrote Wednesday.
Mr. Kuttner predicted Ms. Cheney will run as an independent for president and could scramble the race because voters are upset with the two major parties.
“Though it’s a long shot, here’s the worst irony of all: Should Cheney win, we might rescue democracy only to be back to the right-wing corporate rule that left working people disgusted with democracy in the first place,” he said.