Liz Cheney’s Media Strategy Doesn’t Look Like It’s For Her Upcoming Primary Race
In the final days of her reelection campaign, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney has called upon dear old Dad. A vest-wearing, cowboy hat-clad Dick Cheney is front and center in the latest campaign ad for his daughter, a three-term Republican congresswoman facing tough odds against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman in August 16’s GOP primary. “In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump,” Dick Cheney says in the 60-second, Trump-focused ad, which was released Thursday. The former vice president goes on to call Trump a “coward” and praises his daughter for “standing up for the truth, doing what is right, honoring her oath to the Constitution when so many in our own party are too scared to do so,” noting that “I know [Trump lost his election], Trump knows it, and deep down I think most Republicans know it.”
Cheney’s Thursday ad is her first mentioning Trump by name in this reelection cycle, according to NBC News—not that there was any question of where she stood on the former president. The ad went live the same day CNN aired part of an interview between Cheney and Kasie Hunt on Don Lemon Tonight, during which the lawmaker tacitly acknowledged her poor reelection chances. “I intend to continue to be very involved and engaged—no matter what happens—in these issues that are so fundamental to, I believe, the survival of our republic,” she told Hunt. “My view is that at the end of the day, if defending the Constitution against the threat that he poses means losing a House seat, then that’s a sacrifice that I’m willing to make,” Cheney said. “I don’t intend to lose. But some things are more important than any individual office or political campaign.”
Doubling down on an anti-Trump stance—both in the TV ad and CNN interview—is a weird media strategy for a candidate running in a state Trump carried by 43 percentage points in 2020. There’s been some reporting that Cheney’s campaign has resorted to recruiting Democratic support by urging people to change their party affiliation ahead of the primary so they could vote for her (Wyoming has open primaries, allowing voters to change party affiliation on election day). But it’s also bolstered speculation that she’s using her primary to tee up for a 2024 run, as election watcher Dave Wasserman alluded to:
Getting Democrats to crossover is also a strategy for a group of Republican operatives, who are “quietly mounting a last-ditch effort to rescue” the Wyoming congresswoman, Axios reported Thursday. The other part of the strategy focuses on weakening Hageman “by portraying her as insufficiently loyal to the former president,” per Axios, pointing to the political group Conservatives for a Strong America’s recent missives.
Still, it will be hard to shake Cheney’s recent record on Trump. She was pushed out of Republican leadership for voting to impeach Trump following January 6, has been among Trump’s most vocal critics, and has cast her primary opponent as someone “completely beholden” to the former president. “I will never put party above my duty to the country,” Cheney said in her closing statement at June’s GOP primary debate. As vice chairwoman of the House committee investigating the insurrection, Cheney had a starring role in this summer’s hearings (with more to come), which “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,” the Associated Press reported. Her performance in Washington has only seemed to cement an electoral loss back at home.
As for 2024, Cheney dodged questions about having presidential ambitions during her interview with Hunt. But she also didn’t rule out a future White House bid.