There are only 11 days remaining before Wyoming’s primaries, and by appearances, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney is in trouble. Her primary rival, Harriet Hageman, continues to peddle absurd lies about the 2020 presidential race, to the delight of Donald Trump, who’s enthusiastically supporting her candidacy.
Recent polling paints a predictable picture: Wyoming’s GOP base, much of which remains committed to the failed former president, intends to punish Cheney — for supporting Trump’s impeachment, for helping lead the Jan. 6 committee, for putting democracy’s interests above partisan consideration, and for her general political apostasy.
And so, with time running out, the endangered congresswoman has brought out the big gun: her father. NBC News reported:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney slammed former President Donald Trump, calling him a “coward” in a new TV ad bolstering his daughter, Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, ahead of her primary on Aug. 16.
In the minute-long, direct-to-camera commercial, Dick Cheney — who, incidentally, held this congressional seat for 10 years in the 1980s — is unexpectedly unreserved in his condemnation of the former president.
“In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump,” the former vice president says in the ad.
He added, “[Trump] tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters had rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know it, he knows it, and deep down I think most Republicans know it.”
Referring to his daughter, Cheney concluded, “There is nothing more important she will ever do than lead the effort to make sure Donald Trump is never near the Oval Office again. And she will succeed.”
We’ll learn soon enough just how much political clout the former vice president still has in Wyoming, and the degree to which it can compete with Trump’s influence. (In 2004, with Cheney on the ballot, the Republican ticket carried Wyoming with 68.8 percent of the vote. In 2020, Trump’s GOP ticket won Wyoming with 69.9 percent of the vote.)
But this newly unveiled ad is nevertheless notable for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s difficult to cheer Dick Cheney under any circumstances, especially as he accuses someone else of being a dangerous threat to democratic principles. Similarly, let’s not brush past the fact that the former vice president has had seven years to denounce Trump in these blunt terms, but he waited quite a while to deliver the message.
Second, as a matter of political strategy, it was widely assumed that Liz Cheney would try to shift the focus in this race to her conservative record and support for conservative principles — and away from her fight against Trump and in support of democracy.
Instead, as Primary Day nears, Team Cheney is doing the opposite, effectively turning her race into a referendum on the former president, his lies, and his misconduct.
That’s a risky move, which appears unlikely to work in the short term, though it’s difficult not to wonder whether Liz Cheney and her political operation are already eyeing what comes next after the primary.