(WASHINGTON) — With her competitive primary contest less than two weeks away and in serious jeopardy, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., is out with a striking new ad on Thursday featuring a direct-to-camera testimonial from her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, defending his daughter and warning against former President Donald Trump, who has backed Cheney’s top challenger.
“In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our Republic than Donald Trump,” the former vice president says. “He tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters had rejected him.”
With the three-term Republican congresswoman betting on a fierce anti-Trump message, her father, a powerhouse in Wyoming, calls Trump a “coward” in the scathing 30-second spot, saying, “A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters.”
“He lost his election, and he lost big. I know he knows it, and deep down, I think most Republicans know it,” he said, wearing a cowboy hat and sporting an “I Voted” sticker.
Cheney said he and his wife were “proud” of his “fearless” daughter for “honoring her oath to the Constitution, when so many in our party are scared to do so.”
“There is nothing more important she will ever do than lead the effort to make sure Donald Trump is never again or the Oval Office. And she will succeed,” he said.
Liz Cheney faces a competitive primary battle for Wyoming’s only congressional district on Aug. 16 against challenger Harriet Hageman, a lawyer who ran for Wyoming governor in 2018 and espouses the widely disproven conspiracy that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. Asked at a candidate forum on Wednesday to clarify her stance, Hageman said, “The election was rigged.”
“Like many Wyomingites, I supported Liz Cheney when she ran for Congress,” Hageman said when announcing her bid last September, the same day Trump endorsed her. “But then she betrayed Wyoming, she betrayed this country, and she betrayed me.”
Responding to the news of Trump’s endorsement in a tweet, Cheney said, “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.”
A vocal critic of Trump resisting a peaceful transfer of power, Cheney first drew Trump’s ire when she became one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection” after the Jan. 6 attack. In the following months, she was removed by the House GOP as GOP conference chair, and her subsequent rank as the No. 3 Republican in the House was stripped, as well as the Wyoming GOP censuring her and no longer recognizing her as a member — backlash encouraged by Trump.
The attacks escalated when Cheney accepted a position on the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. As vice chair of the committee, in a series of public hearings, she has appeared like a federal prosecutor as she lays out a case implicating Trump in what the committee has called a “sophisticated seven-point plan” to overturn the election.
Although Cheney’s voting record paints her as a credentialed Republican, siding with Trump on policy matters 93% of the time — up from the 78% of her successor in House leadership, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. — and she carries an “A” rating from the NRA and a 96% ranking from the conservative Heritage Foundation, her criticism on fellow Republicans for downplaying the events of Jan. 6 has made her a party outlier. Cheney’s support in 2020 was strong with 68.6% of the vote in the general election and an even stronger turnout in the Republican primary with 73.5% of the vote there — but the upcoming primary presents her first test to voters since taking on Trump.
In what could be a preview of Cheney’s fate, Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan this week became the second Republican who supported Trump’s impeachment to lose his primary. Only Rep. David Valadao of California narrowly survived his race. (Four representatives are not running for reelection, and two others are in Washington state races too close to call.)
She told ABC News This Week co-anchor Jonathan Karl that she knew her vote to impeach Trump was not popular with many of her constituents but said she’s committed to making sure voters in her state understand her reasoning — and why it shouldn’t mean the end of her political career.
“The people of Wyoming fundamentally believe in the Constitution and faithfulness to it and our oath,” Cheney said. “If the choice is between somebody that Donald Trump decides he’s going to anoint and that person’s basis for being in this race is their loyalty to some person, to Donald Trump, every day of the week I will stack my record and my commitment to the Constitution and my commitment to people of Wyoming up against that.”
She told Karl in another interview in July that she has not ruled out a presidential run as a Republican or an independent “down the road,” but said, “The single most important thing is protecting the nation from Donald Trump.”
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