U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post that the Republican Party has reached a “turning point” in which members must choose between traditional figures and leaders like her or continue following in the footsteps of former President Donald Trump.
The Wyoming Republican, currently the third-highest-ranking member of her party as chair of the House Republican Conference, wrote the piece as she faces increased efforts from rank-and-file members to remove her from leadership, as well as a loss of confidence from GOP leaders.
In the opinion post published Wednesday, Cheney, daughter of Republican establishmentarian and former Vice President Dick Cheney, said the party has to decide “whether we will join Trump’s crusade to delegitimize and undo the legal outcome of the 2020 election, with all the consequences that might have.”
She added, “We Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.”
The embattled conference chair went on to double down on earlier claims that Trump’s rhetoric regarding the outcome of the 2020 election “provoked violence on January 6,” though the day of the riot in a speech to tens of thousands of supporters, the then-then outgoing president encouraged supporters to “peacefully” gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building.
“While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country,” wrote Cheney. “Trump has never expressed remorse or regret for the attack of Jan. 6 and now suggests that our elections, and our legal and constitutional system, cannot be trusted to do the will of the people.”
“This is immensely harmful, especially as we now compete on the world stage against Communist China and its claims that democracy is a failed system,” she added.
Cheney also talked about violence and rioting committed by people aligned with anarchist and Marxist-leaning groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter, but she claimed those incidents constitute a “different problem with a different solution.”
Nevertheless, it is becoming clearer that House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), are fed up with Cheney, who is increasingly viewed as being philosophically at odds with a majority of her party.
“I think she’s got real problems. I’ve had it with … I’ve had it with her,” McCarthy was heard saying on an open microphone this week ahead of a Fox News interview. “You know, I’ve lost confidence. Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place.”
Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the chamber’s second-ranking Republican, has also gone on record saying he supports replacing Cheney.
In a February interview with Fox News, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a staunch ally of Trump, highlighted the bifurcation within GOP congressional ranks, adding that Republican voters have shown in their support for the former president that they no longer want to be “losing politely” with so-called “establishment” candidates.
“When you asked the question, who wants to go back to the forever wars and the bad trade deals and the caravans crashing across our borders, the answer is establishment Republicans,” he said, adding “there are a whole lot of them” in Washington.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), head of the Republican Study Committee, agrees, telling Fox News in early March that the former president laid out a successful path for the party to follow.
“President Trump has taught us a lot about appealing to working-class voters, he made our party the working-class party again,” he said.
“We do have a few voices in the Republican Party that want to erase Donald Trump and the voters he represents in our party,” Banks added. “If we do that we’re destined to lose elections in 2022, there’s no way we’ll win the White House in 2024.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) struck a similar tone in a late February memorandum to the party in which he wrote, “The Republican civil war is canceled.”
“President Trump brought many working-class voters our way, and Hispanic voters are increasingly inclined to vote Republican. Meanwhile, the Democrats have become the party of the elites, the naïve, and the socialist left, giving us tremendous opportunity to recapture our historic strength in America’s suburbs,” he wrote.
In late March, Banks wrote a letter to McCarthy laying out his vision for the GOP moving forward, specifically noting that Republicans should continue to appeal to working-class Americans as Democrats did in the 20th century to build a successful, enduring political coalition.
“President Trump gave the Republican Party a political gift: we are now the party supported by most working-class voters,” he wrote in the memo. “The question is whether Republicans reject that gift or unwrap it and permanently become the Party of the Working Class.”
But Cheney has pushed back on the ‘working-class voter’ strategy linked to Trump, which has further alienated her from her Trump-centric party.
“Cheney argued the GOP is not the party of class warfare and that dividing society into classes while attacking the private sector is neo-Marxist and wrong,” wrote Politico’s Melanie Zanona.
As such, her time as head of the party’s conference may be coming to an end.
Reports this week suggest that rank-and-file members are coalescing around Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who has reportedly been shoring up support behind the scenes.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 5, 2021
“House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and President Biden’s radical socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for Conference Chair,” Scalise’s spokesperson, Lauren Fine, said in a statement to Punchbowl News.
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