U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz blasted House colleague Liz Cheney in her home state of Wyoming during a rally on Thursday, telling supporters that Republicans “are in a battle for the soul” of the party after losing power following the November elections.
Gaetz, who is a staunch ally of Donald Trump’s more populist style of governance, has been warring with Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the lower chamber and the party’s establishment in a bid to shift the GOP away from its neoconservative past because he believes the former president has laid out a roadmap for the party’s future.
But the Florida Republican really stepped up his assault on Cheney, who is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, after she voted to impeach Trump earlier this month, joining just nine other Republicans after blaming the former president for inciting the Capitol riot Jan. 6.
“We are in a battle for the soul of the Republican party, and I intend to win it,” the Florida Republican told hundreds gathered in Cheyenne. “You can help me break a corrupt system. You can send a representative who actually represents you, and you can send Liz Cheney home — back home to Washington, DC.”
(Source: Fox News)
In choosing to vote with the majority Democrats, Cheney claimed of Trump, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
But the backlash has been significant in a state Trump won with 70 percent of the vote — the widest margin of any state in the country.
— RSBN 🇺🇸 (@RSBNetwork) January 29, 2021
According to Trump pollster John McLaughlin, a survey of Wyoming voters this week found that 73 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of all voters view Cheney unfavorably. In addition, she already has a primary challenger for 2022 — state Sen. Anthony Bouchard — who leads Cheney by a 54-21 percent margin.
“Liz Cheney’s decision to vote to impeach President Trump makes her extremely vulnerable,” McLaughlin wrote in a memo to Jason Miller, a former senior adviser. “It is evident her ratings are in bad shape among general election voters and have collapsed among Republicans and Trump voters.”
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz departs from Cheyenne after signing hats and greeting supporters outside the State Capitol at the end of today’s protest against Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney #Cheyenne #Wyoming #MattGaetz #LizCheney pic.twitter.com/0fUAKBufiC
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) January 28, 2021
In addition, the Wyoming Republican Party also ripped Cheney following her impeachment vote.
“There has not been a time during our tenure when we have seen this type of an outcry from our fellow Republicans, with the anger and frustration being palpable in the comments we have received. Our telephone has not stopped ringing, our email is filling up, and our website has seen more traffic than at any previous time,” the organization said in a statement. “The consensus is clear that those who are reaching out to the Party vehemently disagree with Representative Cheney’s decision and actions.”
Also, nearly 56,000 people, as of this writing, have signed onto a Change.org petition launched by Wyoming resident Shelley Horn to “recall” Cheney.
Some state Republicans, including former Gov. Matt Mead and current U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, have come out in support of Cheney, as have some organizations including the Petroleum Association of Wyoming and the Wyoming Mining Association, CNN reported.
Nevertheless, in an appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Thursday evening after the rally, Gaetz said moving forward, the GOP should emulate Trump’s conservative populism, not the neocon wing of the party represented by Cheney and others including Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Ben Sasse (Neb.).
After noting the divide within the GOP, Carlson asked Gaetz how someone with Cheney’s “neocon” leanings became one of the party’s leaders.
“Because inside the Beltway of Washington, D.C., the [political] establishment has concentrated their power, and now they want to be able to reconstitute the Republican Party in their image” post-Trump, Gaetz explained.
He went on to suggest that if the Trump wing of the party “only fights the neocons on their home turf” it is a losing proposition.
“So I think we need to go out into the country, we need to inspire a popular populism, and we need to stand against these ‘America last’ politicians who are a lot like Congress as a whole,” Gaetz said, adding that “more than half” of House Republicans have lost confidence in Cheney.
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