Liz Cheney says she would find it ‘very difficult’ to support Ron DeSantis for president

Gulf between GOP representative and her party’s voters grows

John Bowden
Monday 08 August 2022 17:50 BST
DeSantis suspends state attorney who objected to criminalising abortion

Congresswoman Liz Cheney may be part of a very slim minority of Republican voters in 2024 when she casts her ballot in the GOP’s presidential primary, if her recent statements give any indication.

The Wyoming Republican and vice chair of the select committee investigating January 6 in the House spoke about the Florida governor and widely-speculated-about potential contender for the party’s 2024 nomination in an interview published on Sunday in The New York Times.

In the interview, she described a hesitance to support the political career of the crusading Mr DeSantis, who has made Florida front and centre in the GOP’s culture war by embracing conservative stances on issues like the “Dont Say Gay” bill and abortion rights.

That hesitance is due to Mr DeSantis’s outspoken embrace of Donald Trump, Ms Cheney said, which she called “dangerous” given the revelations about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and non-response to the mob attack on Congress which he himself had inspired.

“I think that Ron DeSantis has lined himself up almost entirely with Donald Trump, and I think that’s very dangerous,” she told the newspaper.

The GOP’s refusal to break from Mr Trump and the atmosphere that led to his rise to power, she went on in the interview to say, stemmed from a “reflexive partisanship that I have been guilty of”.

January 6 “demonstrated how dangerous that [reflexive partisanship] is,” she said.

The unlikelihood of her supporting Mr DeSantis for the GOP nomination in 2024 could leave her far on the outskirts of her party and its voting base, which could be set to oust her from her House seat in a primary that is just days away. Combined, Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis attracted the support of more than 90 per cent of Conservative Politcal Action Conference (CPAC) Texas attendees in the gathering’s straw poll for 2024 over the weekend. Should Mr Trump not run, Mr DeSantis had the support of 65 per cent of survey respondents.

Ms Cheney herself has not ruled out a run for president in 2024 or the future, though such a bid would likely be doomed in a Republican primary. She is widely unpopular with broad swaths of the Trump-supporting GOP who view her work on the January 6 committee as disloyalty and akin to tacit support for Democrats.

But Ms Cheney says she doesn’t mind voting against the will of her party for the time being, and even expects to. In her interview with the Times, she says it could take several presidential cycles for the GOP to shake its rabid devotion to the MAGA wing of the party.

According to the congresswoman, the “very sick” Republican Party “is continuing to drive itself in a ditch and I think it’s going to take several cycles if it can be healed.”

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