Fresh off her primary loss, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Tuesday she has lost this battle against former President Donald Trump, but she still plans to win the war against him and his “poisonous” brand of politics and implicitly compared herself to Civil War-era President Abraham Lincoln.
The vow came after Ms. Cheney’s quest for a third term in Congress ended in a dramatic fashion after her Trump-endorsed challenger Harriet Hageman blew her away at the ballot box.
Ms. Cheney said she called Ms. Hageman to concede, and said she understood the consequences of abiding by her duty to defend democracy and the constitution when she refused to go along with Mr. Trump’s election lies.
“This primary election is over, but now the real work begins,” Ms. Cheney said, before comparing her current situation to that of Lincoln’s early losses in bids for the House and the Senate and quoting from the Gettysburg Address.
“Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our union and he defined our obligations as Americans for all of history,” she said. “Speaking at Gettysburg of the great task before us, Lincoln said, ‘That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’”
She said that “as we meet here tonight, that remains our greatest and most important task.”
Ms. Cheney said the work entails making sure Republican election-deniers are stopped from winning public office and ensuring that “Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office.”
“As we leave here let us resolve that we will stand together – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – against those who would destroy our Republic,” she said. “They are angry and they are determined, but they have not seen anything like the power of Americans united in defense of our Constitution and committed to the cause of freedom.”
“There is no greater power on this Earth and with God’s help we will prevail,” she said.
The blunt call to arms against Mr. Trump was the latest signal Ms. Cheney isn’t going anywhere and is bent on loosening his stranglehold on the GOP.
Ms. Cheney has become the face of the anti-Trump movement on Capitol Hill.
She separated herself from most of her House and Senate GOP colleagues by refusing to rally behind Mr. Trump’s stolen election claims and refusing to move on or stay quiet.
After voting to impeach Mr. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Ms. Cheney was booted from her leadership post in the House GOP conference, disowned by the Wyoming GOP, and censured by the Republican National Committee.
Mr. Trump, in turn, endorsed Ms. Hageman, who embraced his claims of massive voter fraud.
Still, Ms. Cheney stuck to her guns.
She warned that Mr. Trump, his allies, and most rabid supporters represent a serious threat to Democracy and undermine the rule of law by spreading misinformation and lies.
“If we do not condemn the conspiracies and the lies, if we don’t hold those responsible to account we would be excusing this conduct and it would become a feature of all elections,” she said Tuesday evening. “America will never be the same”
Casting Mr. Trump as the biggest of culprits, Ms, Cheney said he continues to voice conspiracy theories – including against law enforcement – that “will promote violence and threats of violence.”
“It is entirely foreseeable the violence will escalate further,” she said “Yet he and others continue purposely to feed the danger.”
Ms. Cheney said she understood she could pay the political price for speaking up.
“Two years ago I won this primary with 73% of the vote,” Ms. Cheney said. “I could have easily done the same again. The path was clear, but it would have required that I go along with President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election.
“It would have required that I enabled his ongoing efforts to unravel our Democratic system and attack the foundations of our Republic,” she said. “That is a path I could not and would not take.”
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