Liz Cheney in 2024? Deep skepticism emerges in key states
CONCORD, NH (AP) — As the sun set in Wyoming, U.S. Representative Liz Cheney described her searing defeat as the start of a bigger step in her political career. She summoned Abraham Lincoln, who lost the House and Senate elections and became one of the nation’s most accomplished presidents.
But in the days that followed, would-be supporters in key states openly expressed skepticism of a Cheney presidential run, even one designed only to block Donald Trump’s return to the White House.
In fact, Republican voters and local officials in three of the states that matter most in presidential politics — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — think the soon-to-be-unemployed congresswoman is of little relevance. in a 2024 presidential primary, never mind a path to victory. Some supporters fear she will actually help Trump if she runs.
Such is the colossal political challenge facing Cheney, a Republican seeking to turn a 37-percentage-point homestate loss into a national campaign to destroy Trump’s White House ambitions. There is no precedent for what she hopes to accomplish.
« The Republican Party is a lot more diverse than you might think, and there will be a number of people who will find her and her message appealing, but that’s a far cry from there being a warm welcome. , or a great reception, » said Micah Caskey, a Republican state representative in South Carolina. « I don’t see a Liz Cheney candidacy as viable. »
Within hours of ceding its Wyoming congressional primary to a little-known Trump sidekick, Cheney’s team funneled remaining campaign funds into a new entity it named « The Great Task, » borrowing a phrase from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. She has vowed to devote the weeks leading up to November’s midterm elections to defeating Trump loyalists who continue to promote the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
« I will do whatever it takes to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office, » Cheney told NBC’s « Today » show. She acknowledged that she was considering a presidential election in 2024. « I will make a decision in the coming months. »
Cheney, the 56-year-old daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, hasn’t ruled out running in 2024 as a Republican or an Independent. But those close to him now believe an independent race would likely attract more support from Democrats than Republicans, undermining his goals. Therefore, if she does run, it would almost certainly be as a Republican.
His team believes Cheney would enter the 2024 Republican contest as the undisputed leader of the anti-Trump path, which could include the likes of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and former Governor of New Jersey. Chris Christy. Cheney’s name is universally known, they note, and she enjoys a national fundraising base that has raised more than $15 million for her failed re-election bid. She is also said to have the support of her father and has close ties to former President George W. Bush, who hosted a fundraiser for Cheney last fall.
She will continue to play a leading role in the House inquiry into the Jan. 6 uprising, which is set to host another round of hearings in September.
Despite these factors, there have been few signs of enthusiasm for Cheney in the states most likely to decide the next GOP presidential nomination.
Voters were openly celebrating his loss at the Iowa State Fair, a must-see for presidents and presidential candidates since the state began staging the opening of the country’s presidential primary half a century ago. .
“It’s a day of celebration for the Republican Party of Iowa. Liz Cheney is outta here! sang Debra Wyna, a 57-year-old Des Moines-area GOP volunteer and retired salon owner. « Liz Cheney is a swamp monster. »
Other voters who stopped by the GOP booth were less pointed than Wyna but no less dismissive of Cheney’s political ambitions.
‘I will never vote for her because I believe she betrayed the Republican Party by voting to impeach President Trump,’ said Janet Diers, a 67-year-old retired special education teacher from rural West India. Iowa.
Gentry Collins, an Iowa veteran and national Republican operative who opposes Trump, said he has « great respect » for Cheney, but he doesn’t see how she is running a viable campaign for the president.
“Where do the votes come from? Maybe she aggregates the anti-Trump vote, but that’s not enough,” said Collins, former political director of the Republican National Committee. « She’s my kind of Republican, but I don’t see an opening. »
It was much the same in New Hampshire, which traditionally hosts the nation’s second Republican primary.
While the state prides itself on introducing presidential candidates every four years, Republican Governor Chris Sununu, who mocked Trump, turned down the opportunity to host a potential Cheney campaign when gave him the opportunity.
« The governor has not considered or considered who may or may not run for president in 2024, » Sununu spokesman Ben Vihstadt said. « He is only focused on midterms in less than 100 days and strongly believes that every second spent speculating on 2024 is a waste of time. »
The first shenanigans of the presidential primary have been underway for several months. And the first Republican presidential announcement could come at any time. Trump debates whether to declare his presidential intentions before or after the midterms.
Republican presidential prospects have been pouring into Iowa and New Hampshire for months now. Visitors include former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senator Tom Cotton and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is another name frequently brought up by local Republican primary voters, though he has yet to come up.
Cheney herself gave a speech in New Hampshire late last year declaring that Trump was at war with the rule of law.
Caskey, the South Carolina state representative, thinks Trump may be vulnerable in a small Republican field, but a large Republican field would split the anti-Trump vote and help Trump reclaim his party’s nomination.
« I think Donald Trump is the overwhelming favorite to win if he shows up, but I don’t think he has an assured path to victory, » Caskey said. « I think the more candidates that get involved, the more likely he is to be successful. »
Matthew Bartlett, a veteran Republican agent from New Hampshire who worked at Trump’s State Department but quit after the Jan. 6 insurrection, said there was a lot of buzz statewide about the candidates in the presidential election – except one.
“Nobody talks about Liz Cheney,” Bartlett said. « I don’t think she knows what she’s doing. »
Nationally, about 7 in 10 Republicans continue to support Trump. That number may have jumped in the days after the FBI executed a search warrant at his Florida estate, though critics note that Trump’s multiple legal entanglements could ultimately damage his reputation. Cheney, meanwhile, is clustered near the bottom with Pompeo and Haley, among others, in early public polls.
Voters tend to agree with professional politicians.
Claire Potter wore a Cheney t-shirt on a recent trip to Conway, New Hampshire to « express my admiration as a Democrat » for the stance she has taken against Trump. Potter, a history teacher at The New School in New York, also donated $25 to the Cheney campaign.
Don’t expect her to vote for Cheney in 2024.
« I don’t expect her to run for president, » Potter said. “I think it could be really risky to keep Trump out of the White House. But I trust her political instincts for what she does next.
Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.
Follow AP for full midterm election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics.
Steve Peoples, Holly Ramer and Thomas Beaumont, Associated Press