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Why Donald Trump Should Fear Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney on CBS
Liz Cheney on CBS. Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot.

If Liz Cheney runs for president in 2024, it could oddly resemble the presidential campaigns of Estes Kefauver in 1952, Ron Paul in 2008-2012, and most ironically Donald Trump in 2016.

It might seem unthinkable that a vanquished congresswoman could run for president after a blowout defeat in Wyoming—a state where her family was political royalty.

Nevertheless, the next morning after her defeat, when asked about a presidential run, she told NBC News, “It is something that I am thinking about, and I’ll make a decision in the coming months.”

It seems hard to fathom how she could capture either the Republican Party nomination or win as an independent. Though winning may not even be the goal.

“I have said since January 6th that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office, and I mean it,” Cheney said in her defiant concession speech.

So, she has two paths to run as an anti-Trump spoiler.

She asserted she could have run a safe campaign for Congress and been easily reelected, but that would have required her to echo Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Eh. That might not be the case. While four of the 10 House Republicans that voted for Trump’s second impeachment lost, two won largely by owning their votes but focusing on other issues. Cheney, by contrast, made anti-Trumpism her single-minded focus.

Cheney perhaps wasn’t trying to win re-election. No doubt she would have been OK with a victory but wasn’t going to work too hard to make that happen nor spend much of her campaign treasury. Instead, she was building a national platform.

She wasn’t running for a Wyoming constituency. In 2022, she was running for a national audience, becoming the star of the Jan. 6 committee hearings as vice chair, while the actual chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, played in the supporting cast in the well-produced hearings that featured Cheney as Joe Friday.

As long a shot as she would be, she has two things in her favor, strong name recognition, and a vast fundraising base. Of the $14 million she raised, most of it is on hand. She would have an enviable amount of media attention, just by being such a clear-cut different candidate.

Running as an independent is an option. Perhaps Andrew Yang’s Forward Party  (neither the Libertarians nor the Greens are going to nominate a neocon) is her 2024 vehicle. That doesn’t have very promising prospects of actually winning.

To be a successful third party spoiler would require her to run to Trump’s right on virtually everything during the general election. That wouldn’t be difficult. On policy, she aligns with Trump on more than 90%. She differs on international trade and foreign entanglements, which are in the more traditional Republican mode.

However, in her concession speech, she compared herself to Abraham Lincoln and suggested she was trying to save the Republican Party.

Bill Kristol, a leading anti-Trump voice on the right, thinks a campaign for the GOP nomination would have a purpose.

“Of course she doesn’t win,” Kristol told The Atlantic. But if Liz Cheney attacks Trump enough during the campaign and debates, it “forces the other candidates to come to grips” with that argument, and would put pressure on those candidates.

Maybe she would only be a blip, another also-ran from a presidential primary like Jim Gilmore. But she could be more.

Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney on Fox News Sunday.

Losing a House race that she can frame as a righteous cause could form the platform at a time when attention and fame are a bigger commodity than holding office. She’s starting a nonprofit expected to be called the Great Task. She will no doubt get a book deal and pundit contract, and won’t be hurting financially.

This brings us back to what campaign she could emulate. It will be one of three troublemaker campaigns—only one of which succeeded, but all of which were impactful.

Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver, a Democrat, became a national name for conducting televised hearings into organized crime. But the leader of his party, President Harry Truman, thought he was a show horse. Kefauver went on to beat Truman in a stunning upset in the 1952 New Hampshire primary. It caused a sitting president to withdraw his reelection bid, though Kefauver didn’t win the nomination.

If Cheney could leverage the Jan. 6 committee hearings the way Kefauver leveraged the organized crime hearings, she would be doing well.

This is an odd comparison, but Liz Cheney the neocon could resemble the libertarian Ron Paul’s role in the 2008 and later the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. Paul, a Texas Congressman, was the most contrarian candidate in the field, lambasting the Bush-Cheney administration’s Iraq war policy, and generally any war strategy.

Paul was the least likely to make an impact, yet, his message was so different from the rest of the candidates, that he broke through with a cultish-like adherence from supporters. He ran again in 2012 and came in second place in the New Hampshire primary, and did respectably in other states. He did what Cheney could do, which is bring in a different set of voters to Republican primaries.

Paul created an opening for a contrarian view in the GOP.

For at least some Paul supporters, Trump filled that hole more than Rand Paul, promising to pivot away from being “policemen to the world”—Ron Paul’s most potent issue.

Liz Cheney in 2024 would enter the GOP primary as the candidate the base doesn’t trust—which was Trump in 2016. Trump forced other Republican candidates out of their comfort zones on issues such as national defense and free trade. Cheney could similarly force the candidates out of their comfort zones, this time not on any issues but on an individual—Trump. She could be a candidate who raises the temperature on the debate stage and eventually forces other contenders to be tough on Trump.

That might be her only goal, and it could be more consequential than expected.

Expert Biography: Fred Lucas is chief national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Abuse of Power: Inside The Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump.” Follow him on Twitter: @FredLucasWH
Written By

Fred Lucas is chief national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of "The Right Side of History" podcast. Lucas is also the author of "Abuse of Power: Inside The Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump."

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. BirdBelter

    August 19, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    I truly hope Cheney runs. I look forward to watching Trump humiliate her.

  2. Tomb

    August 19, 2022 at 5:24 pm

    I think you are crazy

  3. Paddy Manning

    August 19, 2022 at 6:45 pm

    Cheney is irrelevant and the ridiculous Jan 6 Committee hearings wouldn’t provide a platform for a run at school district board.
    Run, Liz run so you can be humiliated and embarrassed.
    Trump will win the GOP nomination. Question is can he beat the Dem nominee?

  4. Scottfs

    August 19, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    Cheney is exactly the kind of person who would destroy the country to get her name in the paper.

    She has more in common with Lee Harvey Oswald than Abraham Lincoln.

  5. Steven

    August 19, 2022 at 9:31 pm

    Trump needs to fear her in the sense she represents the swamp.

  6. TG

    August 19, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    Dick Cheney was a miserable corrupt anti-worker anti-American piece of garbage.

    The fruit does not fall far from the tree.

    Liz Cheney’s ‘falling on her sword’ schtick is all about currying favor with the rich and powerful.

    If the billionaire oligarchs who run the United States can install a brain-damaged corrupt running dog lickspittle sockpuppet like Biden as president, they can surely install Liz.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  7. iizthatiiz

    August 20, 2022 at 12:41 am

    Good to know that 1945 is employing Never Trump “journalists” to write this kind of tripe. If 1945 publishes this kind of crap, it brings into question the legitimacy of the entire site

  8. David Chang

    August 20, 2022 at 10:11 am

    God bless people in the world.

    Liz Cheney does not oppose wrong thought of democratic party, so she won’t lead people in America to against socialism.

    Mrs. Margaret Thatcher say:

    Leon Brittan is a loyal member of the Commission. Yes, the Commission wants to increase its powers. Yes, it is a non-elected body and I do not want the Commission to increase its powers at the expense of the House, so of course we differ. The President of the Commission, Mr. Delors, said at a press conference the other day that he wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the Executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate. No. No. No.

    Perhaps the Labour party would give all those things up easily. Perhaps it would agree to a single currency and abolition of the pound sterling. Perhaps, being totally incompetent in monetary matters, it would be only too delighted to hand over full responsibility to a central bank, as it did to the IMF. The fact is that the Labour party has no competence on money and no competence on the economy–so, yes, the right hon. Gentleman would be glad to hand it all over. What is the point of trying to get elected to Parliament only to hand over sterling and the powers of this House to Europe? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will understand his brief a little better next time.”

    God bless America.

  9. Jim

    August 20, 2022 at 10:53 am

    Cheney had to know she would lose…

    But what spoiled her plans… was the crushing defeat.

    My bet is that Cheney was hoping to lose by a much closer margin, say, 45% to 55%, this would leave her able to say, but for the Trump effect, she still has a national base of support.

    But no, she lost so badly she looks like a loser.

    Even neocons & warhawks won’t tolerate a loser for their “standard bearer.”

    The picture of Cheney on CBS this morning at the head of this article says it best:

    A Liz Cheney that knows she lost… too big to support her plans… one of the few photos that shows that sanctimonious visage wiped off her face.

    She deserved it (Cheney will not be a factor in 2024.).

  10. Trump for prison 2024

    August 20, 2022 at 11:44 am

    Cheney wants to prevent TFG from any chance of being elected. To do so only requires peeling off the real GOP voters. Forget about the lunatic fringe supporting the twice impeached criminal because there aren’t enough to elect porky. Besides, if he is indicted that will further reduce the number of people willing to vote for him. Sounds to me like Cheney will actually help Democrats by splitting the vote.

  11. Thor

    August 20, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    After the elections, she has nothing to offer the left. The left is squeezing every ounce out of the useful idiot Cheney. She has no following with Americans. 71% of Wyoming citizens told her to get lost.

    Wyoming rejected her because she told them she doesn’t care about. She played the martyr on the national stage, and didn’t lift a finger for her state. It was campaign season and she couldn’t even be bothered to actually be in Wyoming. That is why she lost so bigly. Everyone now can see she is a narcissist and a fool.

    The left will viciously turn on her once she has nothing to offer her agenda, as always. No one else will embrace her.

    Once an a useful idiot is no longer useful, they’re just an idiot.

  12. H.R. Holm

    August 20, 2022 at 11:13 pm

    Any Republican candidate who runs on anything other than matters that voters actually care about is a fool, moron, and worthless in any respect. Inflation/economic prosperity, crime, untrammelled immigration, energy security, firearms rights, forcing transgenderism on children, and keeping out of useless wars are among what Republican base voters and many independents *care about*. Liz Cheny has shown no inclination in addressing those items, and cares only about get-get-get- Trump, which will do *nothing* to impove Americans’ lives. She should be a literal *throwaway*.

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