The night and day contrast between the current and former conference chairs — who were both dubbed rising GOP stars early on in their congressional careers — perfectly encapsulates the bitter rift in today’s Republican party, where lawmakers are still duking it out over the direction of the post-Trump GOP.
Stefanik declined to be interviewed through her office. But she has made crystal clear how she now feels about Cheney — a woman whom Stefanik formally nominated for the Conference chair position in 2018 and 2020.
“[Cheney] is a Pelosi Republican, a Pelosi pawn at this point,” Stefanik told Fox News’ Sean Hannity this week. “She does not represent the Republican Conference, or Republican voters, or the American people.”
Cheney, however, said the fight is much bigger than an internal leadership battle.
“We’re clearly in a battle for the soul of the party. And I think it goes far beyond the House Republican Conference,” she told CNN on Thursday. It’s about “whether our party is going to stand for the truth.”
From moderate to MAGA
So it’s little surprise that since Stefanik has stepped into her new leadership job this May, she has been in lockstep unity with the Trump-loving Republican Conference. In fact, it was one of the reasons her colleagues elevated her to the role.
“Awesome. Elise is doing a great job,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and co-founder of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus.
Republicans have also praised Stefanik for growing the House GOP’s social media presence and seeking input from other members when crafting the party message — and then staying laser-focused on that message. The conference chair is not only responsible for member services, but also for sending out internal talking points and weekly emails designed to put the party on the same page.
“The playcalls … and the work product feel like they were the results of speaking to others, as opposed to just unilaterally deciding what’s best without caring what the rest of the Conference thinks,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin, a fellow New York Republican.
Stefanik has explained her shift in stance on the growing calls to tear down statues in her home state. But it’s also another example of how Stefanik has fully leaned into the culture wars, an issue that has animated the GOP base.
“Elise is keeping her head down and supporting the Conference. And I think Liz was seeking controversy,” said Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican and House Freedom Caucus member. “I don’t know how much (Stefanik) shares those values, but I think she’s doing a good job reflecting the Conference.”
Cheney under fire
In Wyoming, pro-Trump primary challengers have already lined up to take Cheney out. But Trump, who is thirsty for revenge after Cheney’s impeachment vote, is now looking to endorse a single opponent to help solidify the anti-Cheney lane in the race. He even entertained a handful of contenders at his golf resort this week.
Meanwhile, in Washington, members of the House Freedom Caucus are ramping up pressure on McCarthy to change their internal rules in order to make it easier to expel her and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who also serves on the January 6 panel. They’ve brought the issue up with McCarthy directly and held a press conference on Thursday to further pound that drum.
But even though McCarthy bragged about the GOP being a “big tent” party after Cheney survived the first attempt to oust her from leadership, Republicans rejected the notion that pushing out Trump critics like Cheney and Kinzinger makes the party less inclusive.
“They chose to leave,” said Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, the head of the Freedom Caucus. “The big tent is still there.”
CNN’s Annie Grayer contributed to this report.Checkout latest world news below links :
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