The Wyoming Republican, a critic of former President Donald Trump who co-led the House investigation into his effort to overturn the 2020 election, has vowed to break his control over the Republican Party and said she would do “whatever it takes” to keep Trump out of the White House after she was soundly defeated by Harriet Hageman last year in Wyoming’s GOP primary.
Hageman, an election denier and staunch Trump supporter, went on to win the general election and success Cheney in the House. The former president backed her campaign while publicly deriding Cheney and encouraging his followers to do the same.
Now, Cheney’s political action committee has dropped an ad titled “Risk,” which features her discussing the danger Trump poses to democratic norms.
“Donald Trump is the only president in American history who has refused to guarantee the peaceful transfer of power,” Cheney says in the ad. “He lost the election, and he knew it.”
NBC News reports the ad will air in New Hampshire, which will host the first GOP presidential primary, and will coincide with a Trump-centered town hall event that CNN is hosting in the state on Wednesday night.
“Rather than accept his defeat,” Cheney says in the ad, Trump “mobilized a mob to come to Washington and march on the Capitol. Then he watched on television while the mob attacked law enforcement, invaded the Capitol, and hunted the vice president.”
She concludes by saying, “Donald Trump is a risk America can never take again.”
The ad doesn’t provide much in terms of newness or creativity, though its points about the danger posed by Trump are well taken, in my view. All the things Cheney says about Trump’s responsibility for the Capitol attack are essentially repeats of things she said during the House Jan. 6 committee’s hearings, and the footage — harrowing as it is — is also likely to be familiar for many.
To me, the most interesting thing about the ad is Cheney’s choice to release it and what it could suggest about her political future.
Cheney is a MAGA movement outcast, but there’s no indication she has moved away from many of the conservative views that made her a Trump supporter in the first place. And there’s no indication she’s completely done being a political figure either.
It’s even arguable that she differs from Trump more on form than substance.
It’s even arguable that she differs from Trump more on form than substance. She clearly doesn’t like his style of illiberal politics. Though when it comes to other kinds of illiberalism more widely accepted in the conservative movement — like making it harder to vote — she’s much more amenable.
Together with the ad, those facts could understandably lead someone to believe Cheney may have political ambitions she hasn’t laid out yet.
“Risk” may appear to be an ad about the former president. But I’d argue it’s all about Liz Cheney. It certainly speaks to her desire for post-Trump — and more specifically, anti-Trump — conservatism.