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Liz Cheney Clings to GOP Post 05/06 06:54

   No. 3 House Republican Liz Cheney was clinging to her post as party leaders 
lined up behind an heir apparent, signaling that fallout over her clashes with 
former President Donald Trump was becoming too much for her to overcome.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- No. 3 House Republican Liz Cheney was clinging to her 
post as party leaders lined up behind an heir apparent, signaling that fallout 
over her clashes with former President Donald Trump was becoming too much for 
her to overcome.

   Unbowed, Cheney on Wednesday implored her GOP colleagues to pry themselves 
from a Trump "cult of personality," declaring that the party and even American 
democracy were at stake. "History is watching," she said.

   Trump issued a statement giving his "COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement" to Rep. 
Elise Stefanik of New York to replace Cheney. Stefanik, a 36-year-old Trump 
loyalist who's played an increasingly visible role within the GOP, responded 
quickly, highlighting his backing to colleagues who will decide her political 
future.

   "Thank you President Trump for your 100% support for House GOP Conference 
Chair. We are unified and focused on FIRING PELOSI & WINNING in 2022!" she 
tweeted.

   The day's events left the careers of Cheney and Stefanik seemingly racing in 
opposite directions, as if to contrast the fates awaiting Trump critics and 
backers in today's GOP.

   The turmoil also raised questions about whether the price for political 
survival in the party entails standing by a former president who keeps up his 
false narrative about a fraudulent 2020 election and whose supporters stormed 
the Capitol just four months ago in an attempt to disrupt the formal 
certification of Joe Biden's victory.

   Cheney showed no signs of backing off in an opinion essay posted Wednesday 
by The Washington Post.

   She denounced the "dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality," 
and warned her fellow Republicans against embracing or ignoring his statements 
"for fundraising and political purposes."

   She said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has "changed his 
story" after initially saying Trump "bears responsibility" for the Jan. 6 
attack on the Capitol. McCarthy, who is tacitly backing the drive to oust her, 
has since said Trump issued a video to try halting the violence.

   Cheney, in the Post, agreed with Democrats that a bipartisan investigation 
should focus solely on the riot and not on disturbances at some of last 
summer's racial justice protests. In an apparent reference to her own 
situation, she said she would defend "basic principles" of democracy, "no 
matter what the short-term political consequences might be."

   Dozens of state and local officials and judges from both parties have found 
no evidence to support Trump's assertions that he was cheated out of an 
election victory.

   President Biden told reporters at the White House that the GOP is in the 
throes of a "significant sort of mini revolution."

   He added, "I think Republicans are further away from trying to figure out 
who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this 
point."

   Cheney, a daughter of Dick Cheney, who was George W. Bush's vice president 
and before that a Wyoming congressman, seemed to have almost unlimited 
potential until this year. Her career began listing after she was among just 10 
House Republicans to back Trump's impeachment for inciting supporters to attack 
the Capitol on Jan. 6, when five died.

   Combined with a morning endorsement from No. 2 House Republican leader Steve 
Scalise of Louisiana and tacit backing from McCarthy, the momentum behind 
Stefanik's ascension was beginning to seem unstoppable.

   Stefanik, who represents a mammoth upstate New York district, began her 
House career in 2015 as a moderate Republican.

   She spoke out against Trump's ban on immigration from seven majority-Muslim 
countries and joined Democrats in voting against Trump's effort to unilaterally 
redirect money to building a wall along the Southwest border. She also led an 
effort to recruit female candidates for her party.

   Stefanik's rural district, which Barack Obama carried in his successful 2008 
and 2012 presidential runs, was subsequently won twice by Trump. She morphed 
into a stalwart Trump defender and was given a high-profile role during the 
2019 House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings.

   That was widely seen as a strategic move by the GOP to soften its image by 
giving a woman a prominent role. Stefanik's status and visibility within the 
GOP have soared since then, and she's also become a significant fundraiser for 
the party.

   Cheney is the highest-ranking woman in the GOP leadership. Replacing her 
with Stefanik -- and not a man -- is seen as politically wise as the party 
tries to bolster its weak appeal among female voters.

   There are just 31 Republican women in the House, about one-third of 
Democrats' total but up from the 13 who served in the last Congress.

   There were no other visible contenders for Cheney's post, with a secret 
ballot by House Republicans on her fate possible next week. A vote on a 
replacement, seemingly Stefanik, could come that day as well.

   Two Republicans said another GOP woman, Rep. Virginia Foxx of North 
Carolina, was expected to make the formal motion to remove Cheney.

   Cheney was making little noticeable effort to cement support by calling 
colleagues or enlisting others to lobby on her behalf, said two House GOP aides 
who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the situation. A third person 
familiar with Cheney's effort also said she was not lining up votes.

   Cheney's opposition to Trump put her out of step with most House 
Republicans, 138 of whom voted against certifying the Electoral College vote 
for Biden's victory.

   Trump's statement Wednesday underscored his bitter rift with Cheney.

   He called Cheney "a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican 
Party Leadership." He praised Stefanik for supporting his America First agenda 
and added that she "has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference 
Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!"

   Rep. Steve Scalise, the House GOP whip, is also backing Stefanik, said 
Scalise spokesperson Lauren Fine. The Louisiana Republican's was the first 
explicit call from House GOP leadership to oust Cheney from her leadership job.

   Stefanik is committed to focusing on Republican efforts to gain House 
control in the 2022 elections "and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and 
President Biden's radical socialist agenda," said the statement from Fine.

   Scalise's backing was first reported by Punchbowl, a political news 
organization.

   McCarthy said Tuesday that rank-and-file Republicans were concerned about 
Cheney's "ability to carry out her job" because of her public comments about 
Trump.

   Republicans say a McCarthy speech backing Cheney at a closed-door House GOP 
meeting in February was largely credited with her surviving an earlier push by 
conservatives oust her, in a 145-61 secret ballot.

   A top House GOP aide has said McCarthy won't do that this time.

   Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., kept his distance Wednesday 
from the House GOP struggle. Asked if he would help Cheney, he told reporters 
in Georgetown, Kentucky, "100% of my focus in on stopping this new 
administration."

 
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