The question Cheney must face is whether there is a single focus within the Republican Party for a candidate to serve as an opponent of its most popular and dominant figure.
“It’s something I’m thinking about and I’ll make a decision in the coming months,” Cheney said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today.”
Still, his role on the selection committee is attracting the kind of attention other Republican Trump critics have struggled to find. Cheney will face the same challenge when he leaves office in January, and a presidential run is the only way to address it.
Although the former president won the state by 43 percentage points in 2020, the three-term congresswoman acknowledged in recent days that she knew her strategy in the Wyoming primary, which has focused relentlessly on Trump’s interviews and television ads. Not popular.
“On that path I have to accept, I have to embrace, I have to perpetuate the big lie,” he said on NBC.
He also acknowledged that moving the GOP away from Trump’s influence will be a long-term project.
“Look, I think the Republican Party is in a very bad shape today, and I think we have a tremendous amount of work to do. I think it may take several election cycles. But we really need to have a Republican Party in the country. In terms of substance, in terms of principles,” Cheney said. said.
Cheney channels Lincoln’s PAC launch
Already, Cheney has begun building a political machine to support a war with Trump.
It’s the first of several next steps for Cheney, an adviser told CNN, as he begins to make good on the ideas he expressed in his election night speech and opens a new chapter after his landslide defeat.
The PAC’s name evokes the words of Abraham Lincoln, who in his Gettysburg Address spoke of the “great task” facing the nation.
Cheney quoted Lincoln at length on Tuesday night at a ranch in Jackson Hole, as the sun set behind him over the Grand Tetons. He drew parallels with his losses before he won the presidency in 1860.
“Abraham Lincoln was defeated in the Senate and House elections, and he would win the most important election of all,” he said.
After January. 6 group challenges
Cheney will have to answer questions about how to stay relevant after his tenure as vice chairman of the House Select Committee ends and he leaves Congress in January 2023.
James Goldston, a veteran television producer who has advised the House panel over the past several months, was in Wyoming for Cheney’s speech. He was not in Wyoming as part of his work as special counsel to a House committee, CNN has learned, but was instead assigned to his own production company for future projects involving Cheney.
Goldston, a former head of ABC News, was surveying the scene at a Cheney campaign event at a cattle ranch outside Jackson. He and a small camera crew were taking in the beautiful landscape, with mountains in the distance and the Wyoming prairie bathed in evening sunlight.
Cheney worked closely with Goldston’s team to present the team’s findings to a national audience in TV-ready fashion. They have worked together to edit hours and hours of recordings that brought the rebellion to life as it unfolded.
“He called him a friend and it had nothing to do with committee work,” Cheney’s spokesman Jeremy Adler told CNN. Goldston declined to comment.
“Let’s make sure we stand together — Republicans, Democrats and independents — against the destroyers of our republic,” Cheney said in his Tuesday night speech.
But the presidential race is much different than the House primary.
Cheney won three-quarters of the vote Tuesday in Teton County, the liberal enclave of northwestern Wyoming where he lives, and Democrats who changed their party registration to vote for Cheney were speculating about his future.
Sandy Buckstaff, a 67-year-old Jackson retiree, waited in line outside the Teton County Library on Election Day to change her registration to vote for Cheney “even though I disagree with him on policy positions from soup to nuts.”
“The Republican Party got away from me,” said Buckstaff, a former Republican who has voted Democratic in recent years. “Seeing Liz Cheney doing the right thing, I thought, what the heck?”
He said he was “excited” about Cheney’s future, but would not vote for him in the GOP presidential race.
“I don’t know where she finds hope in that,” Buckstaff said, “because the Republican base won’t support her.”
Republican John Grant, who voted for Cheney on Tuesday, said he believes he will make a presidential bid, even though his views play a small role in current GOP thinking.
“I think she has a future,” Grant said. “But I think it’s going to take some time — there are a lot of Trump supporters out there.”
This story has been updated with additional updates.
CNN’s Gabby Orr and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.
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