Liz Cheney Inches Closer to Presidential Bid: ‘Not Going to Rule it Out
Speaking at a Michigan policy conference, the former Wyoming congresswoman had harsh words for her home-state leaders
- Published In: Politics
- Last Updated: Jun 02, 2023
In remarks at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan on Thursday, former Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney declined to rule out a presidential bid: "We'll see what happens," she said. (Photo via YouTube / Detroit Regional Chamber)
By Jacob Gardenswartz
Special to the Wyoming Truth
Former Wyoming congresswoman turned anti-Trump crusader Liz Cheney inched closer to announcing a run for president on Thursday, refusing to rule out a third-party bid in 2024 and decrying top GOP candidates — and her political party more broadly — for what she described as promoting revisionist history in their characterization of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“Right now, we have one party that has embraced insurrection, one party that is essentially trapped in a cult of personality, willingly trapped in a cult of personality,” Cheney said in remarks at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan.
“I don’t think you can look at today’s Republican party and say that it is any kind of a healthy institution,” Cheney mused.
The former congresswoman, who lost her seat to Trump-backed Harriet Hageman nearly a year ago, has since emerged as one of the foremost Republican voices against the former president. She even endorsed Democrats running against “election deniers” — those who refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020.
Though she declined on Thursday to make any formal announcements as to her future plans, Cheney told moderator Devin Scillian, an anchor on NBC News’ Detroit affiliate, that she is “really focused on making sure that Donald Trump isn’t anywhere close to the Oval Office again.”
Asked later in the interview about the possibility of a third-party candidate gaining traction in the race given Biden and Trump’s historic unpopularity, Cheney noted there are several Republicans rumored to be planning to run who she described as “good people.” Nonetheless, she declined to close the door on a third-party bid herself.
“We’ll see what happens, but I’m not going to rule it out,” Cheney demurred.
No on Trump nor DeSantis
While Cheney’s stance on Trump has long been known, the former congresswoman voiced her opposition to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently announced a presidential bid of his own and is widely seen as Trump’s top GOP rival.
“I’m going to assume that since Ron DeSantis has talked about pardoning a lot of the January 6 insurgents that he’s probably not going to be where you’re going to move your support?” asked Scillian.
“That is true,” Cheney responded curtly.
She also doubled-down on her assessment that the former president should be held criminally liable for the violence on Jan. 6, pointing to the criminal referral the Jan. 6 committee made against him at the conclusion of its investigation.
“He certainly should not be anywhere engaged in our politics or political life again,” Cheney said. “But if he’s not held accountable for what he did, then what he did becomes acceptable. And we will see it again and again and again.”
Cheney was asked whether she had any regrets speaking out so forcefully against Trump, given the severe repercussions she’s faced since; before losing her seat in Congress, Cheney was kicked out of GOP leadership and censured by the Wyoming Republican Party.
“No, I don’t have any regrets about the choices I made except my choice to support Donald Trump. I regret that,” Cheney said candidly.
Indeed, Cheney’s transformation into a top Trump antagonist was remarkable in part due to her previous steadfast support for him; in the 115th and 116th Congresses, she backed his policies nearly 95% of the time.
Yet as Trump and his allies ramped up rhetoric of a “stolen” election in 2020, Cheney began to distance herself from him. And after Jan. 6, she said, she had no choice but to speak out forcefully.
“After it became clear that Donald Trump was willing to go to war with the rule of law, there was no moment where there was another possible honorable choice,” she said Thursday. “I did what I felt my duty compelled me to do.”
Since then, Cheney has had no qualms speaking out against not just Trump but also those who continue to support him — including leaders in Wyoming, which broke for the former president in 2020 by a higher margin than any other state in the nation.
“What’s happening here in Michigan, I mean, I see it in my home state of Wyoming as well. The chairman of the Party in Wyoming is a member of the Oathkeepers. And we as Republicans have to reject that,” Cheney argued.
But her words appear to be falling on deaf ears back home. Trump remains widely popular in Wyoming, and his hand-picked successor Hageman has returned the favor by endorsing his 2024 presidential bid and defending him amid a slew of ongoing legal perils.
“He won Wyoming by over 70% of the vote, and I represent Wyoming,” Hageman told the Wyoming Truth in a recent interview. “He was very, very good for Wyoming.”
Running or not, a fixture on the campaign trail
Whether or not she opts to run for president herself, Cheney appears intent on remaining deeply involved in the 2024 race.
Already, her political action committee has started running anti-Trump ads in early primary states, and Cheney herself has traversed the country for sporadic speaking engagements: in Michigan for Thursday’s policy conference interview and Colorado last weekend to deliver the commencement address at her alma matter, Colorado College.
“Our nation and our society have expectations of you. You are the inheritors and the guarantors of our free society,” Cheney told graduates. “We need you to preserve it, and to leave it better than you have found it. The first thing we ask of you is that you live in truth.”
In November, the former congresswoman is set to release a memoir, “Oath and Honor,” billed as a “gripping first-hand account from inside the halls of Congress as Donald Trump and his enablers betrayed the American people and the Constitution.”
And in interviews, Cheney is not only eager to trash Trump but also speak about on news of the day, commenting on the debt ceiling agreement (“hugely important that America not default”), Supreme Court ethics reform (“crucially important that we have confidence in all of our institutions”) and artificial intelligence (“very grave danger if we don’t treat it appropriately”).
Still, it’s evident her anti-Trump commentary is the driving force behind her speaking engagements, regardless of her possible political aspirations. And, at least on Thursday, it was what the audience most wanted to hear, too.
“I’ve been a conservative longer than Donald Trump has been spray tanning,” Cheney told conference attendees to laughter and applause.