After being soundly defeated in the Wyoming GOP primary last week, Rep. Liz Cheney has hinted that she will move on to bigger things, namely a potential presidential run — even comparing herself to Abraham Lincoln in the process.
“Abraham Lincoln was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of all. Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our union, and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history,” Cheney said.
While most of us laughed at this analogy, the mainstream media cheered her on, no doubt salivating at the idea of Cheney launching a primary challenge to Donald Trump.
The Republican National Committee won’t do anything to stop Cheney from running for president in 2024. In fact, their rules say they can’t.
The Republican National Committee must remain neutral in GOP presidential primaries when there is no incumbent. So, even if Donald Trump runs in 2024, he technically wouldn’t be an incumbent, and therefore, the rules of neutrality apply.
“The party has stated plainly that we will be neutral in the presidential primary in ’24,” said RNC member Henry Barbour.
“If she wants to run as a Republican, there’s nothing they can do to keep her off the ballot,” a Republican strategist said.
I have no doubt there are plenty of conservative voters who are outraged at the idea that Cheney may run for president as a Republican. After being so clearly rejected by the voters of her district for her anti-Trump escapades, she’d probably be better off as a co-host on The View than trying to make a political comeback at this point — especially one destined to fail.
Still, while it seems like letting Cheney run as a Republican would be a bad thing, trust me; it beats the alternative. If Cheney wants to run for president, she will, whether the Republican National Committee lets her run as a Republican or not. If they had a choice, they should let her run as a Republican. Why? Because if she were barred from running as a Republican, she might run as a third-party candidate.
Liz Cheney knows she’d never defeat Trump in a GOP primary, but there’s very little reason to believe that her goal is actually victory. “I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never anywhere near the Oval Office, and I mean it,” she said in her concession speech. Do you really think she’ll run in 2024 to win the presidency or to stop Trump from winning the presidency?
Trump may be the runaway favorite of GOP voters, but polls have shown that a significant percentage of them would prefer an alternative to Trump in 2024. That may not be enough to stop him in a GOP primary, but it could be devastating in a general election.
Now, do you understand why the media is cheering her on? If Cheney launches a third-party bid, it’s theoretically possible she could siphon off enough conservative votes from Trump in the general election that it might tip a couple of close states in favor of whoever the Democrats end up running in 2024.
So should the Republican National Committee play ball with Liz Cheney in 2024? For sure. The GOP can move past a divisive Republican primary, but a conservative third-party candidate would be a much tougher obstacle to overcome.