Vilified by Trump, Liz Cheney explores her political future with backing from GOP elders
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Vilified by Trump, Liz Cheney explores her political future with backing from GOP elders

Liz Cheney is going to New Hampshire. She’s getting her political operation in order. And she’s raising money like mad from icons of the Republican Party.

The Wyoming congresswoman is clearly exploring her political options and power well beyond her congressional district, even if she’s not talking openly about a run for president.

“I’ve never had a conversation with her about 2024,” said Eric Edelman, a former ambassador, Pentagon official and adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney. “If there was going to be a Never Trump candidate, I can’t think of anyone better.”

Eight months after she voted to impeach Donald Trump, Cheney continues to be one of the party’s most vocal critics of the former President and his hold on the Republican Party. The three-term House member has also said she would do “whatever it takes” to prevent Trump from becoming president again and has not closed the door on running for the White House herself.

Cheney’s immediate political goal, however, is to retain her House seat from Harriet Hageman, a Trump-backed primary challenger. To help, she is marshaling the forces of the pre-Trump GOP establishment.

On October 18, former President George W. Bush will attend a fundraiser for Cheney in Dallas, co-hosted by former US Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and top Bush campaign aides Karl Rove and Karen Hughes.

Former Republican House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan also raised money for Cheney earlier this year. And on top of that, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sens. Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney have all donated to Cheney through their respective political action committees.

Her fundraising hauls have been impressive for the standards of Wyoming’s at-large district — more than $1.5 million in the first quarter of 2021 and nearly $1.9 million in the second, by far her two best fundraising performances ever.

Cheney’s political schedule is also drawing attention.

On November 9, she will travel to New Hampshire, the home of the first presidential primary, to speak at St. Anselm College’s Institute of Politics. The event is sponsored by the Loeb School of Communications, whose president, Joe McQuaid, is also the conservative publisher of the Manchester newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, and a gatekeeper for Republican White House hopefuls.

All of this comes as Cheney continues to play a heightened role in the national conversation, despite her ouster from the House Republican leadership team earlier this year. She is the co-chair of the House select committee investigating the events of January 6, and is just one of two Republicans serving on the panel.

In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” this week, Cheney repeated her condemnations of Trump, calling his actions on January 6 “unforgivable.” She also criticized Republicans, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, for continuing to embrace Trump.

“What he’s done is embrace Donald Trump. And if I were doing what he’s doing, I would be deeply ashamed of myself,” Cheney said.

Winning reelection first

Trump has made taking out Cheney a top priority, setting up what the congresswoman told “60 Minutes” would be “the most important House race in the country in 2022.”

While a number of Republican candidates have jumped into the at-large district’s primary, Trump announced on September 9 he would back Hageman, the same day she entered the race.

“I strongly endorse Republican House of Representatives Candidate Harriet Hageman from Wyoming who is running against warmonger and disloyal Republican, Liz Cheney,” the former President said in a statement.

An attorney and former Republican National Committee member, Hageman was once a political adviser to Cheney, who responded to the endorsement on Twitter: “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.”

Since Hageman declared her candidacy, Cheney allies have highlighted her opponent’s past statements and actions opposing Trump.

A New York Times article documented Hageman’s alliance with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at the 2016 Republican National Convention in the effort to force a floor vote on the nomination. At the time, Hageman referred to Trump as “racist” and “xenophobic,” according to the Times.

But since then, Hageman has taken Trump’s side. She told CNN’s Alex Rogers that Trump is the “leader of the party” and that “there are legitimate questions about what happened during the 2020 election.”

Cheney has argued that such accommodation only strengthens Trump’s hold on the GOP. She has repeatedly called on her fellow Republicans to instead address Trump’s falsehoods about the election head on.

“Those who think that by ignoring Trump, he will go away, have been proven wrong,” Cheney said on “60 Minutes”

Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman and CNN contributor, said he admires Cheney’s stand but doesn’t know what she’ll do if she’s successful.

“For her, this clearly is not about politics and the next election,” Dent said. “She’s clearly focused on a post-Trump future for the party.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated who was highlighting Harriet Hageman’s previous anti-Trump statements. Allies of Liz Cheney have done so.

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