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Open Spaces

Most Think Cheney Has A Bright Future In The House

Liz Cheney

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney is seen as a rising star in the GOP, so some in the party were surprised to see her opt to stay in the House and not run for the state's open Senate seat.

After just one term in the House Cheney was propelled into the number three leadership position for Republicans in the House where she helps run the party's messaging. With Cheney a household name nationwide, and especially in Wyoming, many political watchers expected her to run for retiring Senator Mike Enzi's Senate seat, especially because she tried to primary him a few years back before bowing out. Still, Cheney says her place is in the House.

"I think I can have a bigger impact for Wyoming in the House. And I love the House, so I'm glad to be staying here," Cheney said.

When Cheney made her announcement that she's staying in the House to a closed-door meeting of House Republicans she received a sustained standing ovation. One of President Donald Trump's top allies in the House is Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida, and he says she's the right fit to represent the party these days.

"Liz is an asset in the House. She is very compelling as an advocate for the positions that the conference takes. And I know a lot of folks in the House, myself included, think highly of her," Gaetz said.

While Gaetz adores president Trump, he also says he wouldn't be surprised if the nation had a President Cheney someday.

"I think Liz can be president one day if she wanted to be," Gaetz said.

But Cheney has her critics. Besides her more hawkish stance on foreign policy than Trump and many in today's GOP, some conservatives say Cheney's helping the party betray its core principles, especially on fiscal policy now that the nation has an annual one trillion-dollar deficit under Trump. That's why Michigan Congressman Justin Amash left the GOP and is now an Independent.

"Republicans change their stripes from day to day…I'm not sure policy really matters that much to people in the age of Trump on the Republican side," Amash said.

"Is she emblematic of that?" Wyoming Public Radio asked.

"Yeah, in some sense. I don't think it matters whether you're a hawk or a dove or fiscally conservative or fiscally wasteful. I don't think anyone cares on the Republican side right now," Amash said.

Cheney's loudest critics come from the left, especially from New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the other three freshmen female minorities known as The Squad. Ocasio-Cortez says Cheney - who has repeatedly sparred with members of the Squad - dog whistles to the party's far-right base.

"She certainly doesn't dial back on some of the horrifying rhetoric that targets us in the party, particularly young women of color, particularly immigrants, certainly not part of making the party more welcoming to more Americans," Ocasio-Cortez said.

Ocasio-Cortez says Cheney is merely being paraded about party leaders because they know the GOP has a woman problem.

"I think the party really struggles with women and try trying to kind of elevate a woman I think is an effort in having representation in their leadership, but most of her policy stances are atrocious and pretty horrible for working families and the environment. So what else is new? That doesn't differ too much from the rest of the leadership of the party," Ocasio-Cortez said.

Still, some Democrats speak highly of Cheney. California progressive Ro Khanna is a Bernie Sanders supporter, yet he says Cheney has always been cordial to him.

"You know, she sent me a book in our first term signed by her and Vice President Cheney and said, 'You may not agree past page three, but we're all on the same team.' So obviously, we have very strong philosophical disagreements, but I've actually found her to be respectful," Khanna said.

But to most rank and file Republicans, Cheney is a rock star and not just because of her dad. Here's Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe.

"Obviously we have great respect for her dad, but look, she's done this on her own. She earned this, and I think she'd be a great leader. I think she'd doing a great job - I don't know where the top is," Roe said.

Roe even brought Cheney down to speak at a Lincoln Day dinner in his southern district.

"It was kind of funny, she was running behind a little bit and got a speeding ticket coming up. I agreed to pay for it, but she wouldn't take the money," Roe said.

As his constituents were waiting in line to get their photos taken with Cheney some of his voters were eagerly asking about Cheney's future in the party, and Roe says they were as excited as he was about what her future holds for the GOP.

"I think the sky's the limit for her. I really do," Roe said. "She's a remarkable woman."

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