Liz Cheney’s non-stop work on the January 6 committee has made her the new darling of the MSNBC/CNN crowd, most of whom would previously have refused to spit on her if her hair was on fire. But it hasn’t done anything for her back home in Wyoming. She has a primary coming up on August 16 and the latest polling indicates that her days are likely numbered. She’s facing off against Harriet Hageman, the candidate that Donald Trump has endorsed in the race, and she has seen a surge in GOP support. Meanwhile, the state Republican party has effectively excommunicated Cheney and their offices aren’t even offering Cheney yard signs. But Team Cheney isn’t sounding down in the dumps. They realize that her prospects for another term serving Wyoming in Congress are slim to none, but some are suggesting that this entire affair could pave the way for a White House run in 2024. If you’re scratching your head over that suggestion, you are not alone. (Associated Press)
Cheney’s unrelenting criticism of Trump from a Capitol Hill committee room represents the centerpiece of an unconventional campaign strategy that may well lead to her political demise, at least in the short term. Many Cheney allies are prepared for — if not resigned to — a loss in Wyoming’s Aug. 16 Republican primary against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman.
But as primary day approaches, there is also a pervasive belief among Cheney’s team that her unorthodox strategy in 2022 may put her in a stronger position for the 2024 presidential contest. Cheney’s fierce anti-Trump message as vice chairman of the congressional committee investigating the insurrection has strengthened her national brand while expanding a national network of donors and Trump critics in both parties who could boost a prospective White House run.
Cheney has yet to finalize any decisions about 2024, but she has not ruled out a presidential run as a Republican or an independent.
The linked report contains comments from a number of Cheney associates who certainly sound serious when they suggest she might run for the presidency, either in the GOP primary or as an independent. The one person we’re not hearing this from is Cheney herself. All she’s really said so far is that she’s “not ruling anything out.” But that’s what politicians always say when reporters begin speculating about a presidential bid. They don’t want to “rule things out” because the speculation generates positive headlines and increased name recognition.
But on what planet does Cheney think she would seriously have a shot at the nomination in 2024? She could obviously try to run as an independent and wind up on the back page like almost everyone else who has tried it. But to run as a Republican, she would have to win primaries in a lot of states where Donald Trump remains very popular, including her home state. Not every Republican voter is a Trump fan, it’s true. And there are still many who probably wish he would stay on the sidelines and let the party move on without the constant circus atmosphere that Trump always generates. But that doesn’t mean that they want to see him being trashed by Cheney in prime time every night on CNN.
If she’s hoping for some cross-party or independent support, that’s quite unlikely as well. Hating Donald Trump may be temporarily giving her some popularity among liberals, but the rest of her policy views don’t seem to have changed. Nobody on the left is going to vote for her based solely on her hatred of Trump. Hating the Bad Orange Man doesn’t mean she suddenly supports gun control or confiscation. Hating the Bad Orange Man doesn’t mean she supports higher taxes. Hating the Bad Orange Man doesn’t mean she supports sexual identity indoctrination in kindergarten.
Liz Cheney’s decision to become the public face of “saving the nation from another Trump presidency” has effectively turned her into a woman without a country in political terms. She is far too conservative for Democrats and left-leaning liberals. But she’s also alienated a huge swath of the GOP base. If she’s seriously pondering a run for the White House in 2024, her judgment may have slipped even further than I already suspected.