Former House Republican conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., recently told Politico that she wouldn’t support Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in a bid for speaker if the GOP manages to take control over the House.
“I think that we’ve got to have leaders who lead based on principle, and that’s not what we’ve seen from him,” Cheney said, referring to McCarthy, in an interview released on Tuesday.
Republicans voted to remove Cheney from her leadership post last week, replacing her with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who had support from McCarthy, House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and former President Donald Trump, who Cheney had been a vocal critic of.
At the beginning of the conference meeting where she was ousted, Cheney reportedly said: “We cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy. Down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country. If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy.”
Politico notes that some Republicans argue that Cheney should have run for Senate last year, where she likely wouldn’t have faced the same level of backlash for her comments about Trump, his claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election, and her call for a commission to investigate the Capitol riot. However, Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told Politico that “if she had run for the Senate and won, she’d be a rank-and-file senator. Would it be such a big deal? She’d be like Mitt Romney,” the Utah Republican who was the only member of the GOP to vote to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial.
“She wouldn’t have a leadership position to lose, plus she’d have a six-year term. It’d be a lot different,” Cramer added.
“I’m really glad that I decided to stay in the House,” and not leaving to run for Senate last year, as she had considered, Cheney told Politico. “As we’re engaging in these battles about principles and the future and standing up for truth, I think that these battles really are being fought out in the House.”
She added, “When you look at history, it’s individuals who make a difference. And I feel really honored to be able to stand up and speak on these issues that I think are going to determine the future of the country and the future of our democracy.”
Cheney also told Politico that she’s “very focused on changing” the fact that an anti-Trump Republican would have a hard time succeeding in the current GOP landscape.
The congresswoman said that her current top priority is to win reelection, noting that Trump supporters have already begun to organize against her in her home state of Wyoming. When asked if she has a Plan B, Cheney replied: “I’m not gonna lose my seat.”
She concluded that her goal of moving the Republican Party away from Trump is “going to require consistent hard work and effort by a lot of people, and a willingness by people to stand up and talk about what’s right. I don’t think that it’s certainly going to happen overnight.”
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