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GOP leaders who challenge Trump feel the heat from his base

Seeking to consolidate his grip on the GOP despite the party’s losses in 2020, the former president raises the possibility of him running for the White House again in 2024, forcing other potential hopes like the former vice president Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron. DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tiptoe around the huge shadow he casts within the party.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third House Republican who voted to impeach Trump, is once again a target of Trump and his allies in Congress after saying that Republicans who opposed certification of the electoral college results on Jan.6 should be disqualified from the party leadership.
But in a sign of Trump’s enduring influence, many of the 11 Republicans vying for Saturday’s special election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District enthusiastically embraced the former president, though he did not win the district only by 3 points last fall. Republican Susan Wright, who had Trump’s approval, will finish first among 23 people and move on to a run-off, CNN projects.

Also on Saturday, GOP delegates to the Utah Republican Party organizing convention booed Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump in his 2020 and 2021 impeachment trials. escalated when the Utah Republican told the crowd that he was a person “who says what he thinks” and “doesn’t hide the fact that I wasn’t a fan of the latter’s character issues. President”.

“You can boo all you want, but I’ve been a Republican my whole life. My dad was governor of Michigan, my dad worked for Republican candidates he believed in,” Romney told audience of party delegates. . “I have worked for Republicans across the country and if you don’t remember I was the Republican presidential candidate in 2012.”

“I understand that I have a few people who don’t like me very much and I’m sorry about that,” he added. “But I express my mind as I just believe it and I am my conscience.”

A lonely group of strangers

Both Romney and Cheney are testimonies to the fact that following his conscience in today’s GOP often leads to inflexible threats to his political survival. Romney’s troubles at home and the backlash Cheney got from inside his conference are emblematic of the precarious position faced by nearly every Republican politician who berated Trump.

At the moment, they are an isolated group of outliers. within the Republican Party – and their overlap between standing and staying in power as members of a party where conspiracy theories and lies dominate IThis will likely become more difficult as the 2022 election heats up.

Trump has vowed to use his punitive tactics against Cheney and other lawmakers who supported his impeachment midway through 2022 and beyond.

But even with this pressure, Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, shows new confidence that could serve as a role model for other Trump deserters from the Republican Party, even as most members continue to pamper his lies about voter fraud and the 2020 election.

Cheney opened the door last week to running for president in 2024 and had the audacity to jostle Biden ahead of his speech at a joint session of Congress.

She retained her leadership position, easily surviving a secret ballot vote in February, even as members privately wonder if she can still speak for the conference. But last week, when Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked at a GOP retreat whether she was still a “good candidate” for leadership, he replied: “She is a question for the conference. “

More recently, some GOP members have been angered by his rebuke of lawmakers who backed the former president’s attempt to overturn the election results.

“I think we’re going to be in a good position to be able to take the White House,” she told the 2024 New York Post in an interview released Monday. “I think some of our candidates who led the charge – especially the senators who led the unconstitutional charge, fail to certify the election, you know, in my opinion, that’s disqualifying.”
Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who led the effort to oppose the electoral college results on January 6, told CNN’s Manu Raju in response that Cheney was “on an island” and “really out of step with voters. and members of the GOP “.

“Obviously she has to come to the voters, but I think she certainly doesn’t speak for the vast majority of Republicans or people in my state,” said Hawley, a potential GOP presidential candidate.

While Cheney is berated by some of her colleagues for standing up to Trump, many GOP members have remained silent about the conduct of Trump henchmen such as Wartime Florida Rep Matt Gaetz and Georgia Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene .

Greene, a mine of conspiracy theories and a staunch supporter of Trump, has managed to raise huge sums of money from her supporters despite being removed from her post on the committee earlier this year.

Gaetz, who is the subject of a Justice Department investigation into allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution, has formed a fundraising committee with Greene and they plan to travel the country together on an “America First” tour. “. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a felony.

The Texas special election was a first test of the power of Trump’s imprimatur to influence the results – as 23 candidates vied for the seat vacated by the late GOP Representative Ron Wright – nearly four months after the Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in their attempted insurgency. The field included a GOP candidate, small business owner and veteran Michael Wood, who called on Republicans to reject Trumpism, conspiracy theories and QAnon.

“I felt like I had to stand up. Someone had to stand up and say that’s not what the Republican Party should be, and we have to go in a different direction,” Wood told CNN.

At the start of Sunday, Wood was not in contention for second place in the second round.

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