by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The GOP infighting over Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, is both about President Trump and the direction of the party going forward if he is defeated in November.
“Nobody has given up,” said a Republican strategist who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “There’s still time. But you’d have to be a fool not to at least think about life after POTUS at this point.”
Trump remains a colossus within the party, which is why Cheney finds herself on trial among House conservatives over her loyalty to the president. She has most recently clashed with Trump over foreign policy and coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci. “House Republicans deserve better as our Conference Chair,” tweeted Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and top Trump ally. “Liz Cheney should step down or be removed.”
Trump has been trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden for weeks both nationally and in the battleground states. Trump has been pulling between 37% and 44% of the vote in polls dating back to late June.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has tried to position herself as a Trump loyalist despite disagreements. She told Fox and Friends on Wednesday that she votes with him “something like 97% of the time,” a figure borne out by FiveThirtyEight’s legislative Trump tracker. But she would likely represent a return to the Bush-Cheney years on foreign policy after four years of a Republican president who talked about “America First” and ending “endless wars.”
Many of Cheney’s intraparty foes do not want to see the Republican Party return to a more hawkish foreign policy. “I think one of the good things about President Trump is he’s tried to end the war in Afghanistan after 20 years,” Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, told CNN.