Liz Cheney: GOP must move beyond Trump’s ‘cult of personality’

MACKINAC ISLAND, Michigan – Liz Cheney has no regrets.

The former Republican congresswoman from Wyoming stands by the strong stance she took against President Donald Trump after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and his actions to overturn the results of the presidential election.

For her efforts on the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6, as well as her vote to impeach Trump, Cheney lost her primary last year. But her conscience is clear.

Cheney also continues to maintain that for the good of the country, the Republican Party must move beyond the “cult of personality” surrounding Trump and instead prioritize defending the U.S. Constitution and our intrinsic freedoms.

Cheney spoke Thursday to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, Michigan’s premier annual gathering of business and political leaders.

Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney speaks at the Mackinac Policy Conference on June 1, 2023, on Mackinac Island, Mich.
Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney speaks at the Mackinac Policy Conference on June 1, 2023, on Mackinac Island, Mich.

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“Right now we have one party that has embraced insurrection, one party that is willingly trapped in a cult of personality, and that's a really dangerous place for us to be,” Cheney said. “I don't think you can look at today's Republican Party and say that it is any kind of a healthy institution.”

Liz Cheney as a third-party candidate?

There’s been much speculation about Cheney’s future political ambitions, and while she didn’t make any big announcement Thursday, she definitely left open the possibility of a presidential run.

The 2024 GOP presidential field is becoming increasingly crowded, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence are expected to announce their campaigns soon.

Cheney seems to be positioning herself for a White House bid as well. She has a book coming out later this year, “Oath and Honor,” detailing what happened on Jan. 6 and the fears she still has about the future of the country.

Rather than join the Republican fray, however, Cheney indicated she’s considering a third-party option, saying she wouldn’t “rule it out.”

Third-party candidates in the past have rarely done well. Yet with 70% of the country not wanting to see a rematch between President Joe Biden and Trump, there could be more interest in a third option.

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“I think that this is a moment where the tectonic plates of our politics are shifting, and they're shifting because the peril is so real,” Cheney said. “I don't know whether that means we will have a third-party candidate. We need people who are serious. We need people who are sane.”

The bipartisan group No Labels seeks to find a strong third-party candidate and is gaining steam nationally to identify and fund a third option. The challenge for any candidate – especially a third-party one – is to get on the ballot in every state, which takes considerable funding.

The prospect of a credible third-party candidate is intriguing, and one that could appeal to both Republican and Democratic moderates.

‘I am a conservative’

Cheney made it clear that while she is standing up to Trump and other election deniers who have flooded the GOP, her conservative ideals remain solidly intact. She has previously said she believes in the principles of limited government and a strong national defense, and she stands by them.

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Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., campaigns for Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., in Lansing on Nov. 1, 2022.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., campaigns for Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., in Lansing on Nov. 1, 2022.

Last fall, Cheney raised a lot of eyebrows when she came to Michigan to campaign for the reelection of Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat.

That doesn’t mean her political stance has changed, she said. Rather, Cheney felt compelled to support a former colleague who wants the best for the country, even if Slotkin is on the other side of the aisle.

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USA TODAY columnist Ingrid Jacques
USA TODAY columnist Ingrid Jacques

For her actions, Cheney said she has been slapped with the “Republican in name only” label, including by Trump. She’s no RINO, however.

“I think the most conservative of all conservative principles is allegiance to the Constitution,” she said. “And I am a conservative.”

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Liz Cheney for president? Trump critic considers third-party campaign