Former US Representative Liz Cheney implored new college graduates not to compromise on the truth, excoriating fellow House Republicans for not doing enough to combat former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 elections were stolen.
In a commencement speech at Colorado College, the Wyoming Republican repeated her fierce criticism of Trump but avoided discussing his 2024 re-election campaign or her own political future.
Cheney, a 1988 graduate of Colorado College, recalls being a political science student as he entered a building on campus where a Bible verse was inscribed above the entrance that read, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
“After the 2020 election and the January 6 attack, my fellow Republicans wanted me to lie. They wanted me to say that the 2020 election was stolen, that the January 6 attack was not serious and that Donald Trump was not dangerous,” Cheney said Sunday in Colorado Springs, connecting her experiences as a student to her work in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I had to choose between lying and losing my job at the leadership of the House.”
In three terms, Cheney rose to the No. 3 GOP leadership position in the House, a position she lost after voting to impeach Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection on Capitol Hill, then failed to relented in his criticism of the former president.
Cheney’s speech touched on similar themes to those she has promoted since leaving office in January: addressing her work on the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol and stand up to the threat she thinks Trump poses to democracy. She also encouraged more women to run for office and lambasted one of the non-election lawyers who worked for Trump after the 2020 election for his recent remarks on student voting.
“Cleta Mitchell, an election denier and adviser to former President Trump, recently told a gathering of Republicans that making sure students don’t vote is critically important,” Cheney said. “Those who attempt to unravel the foundations of our republic, who threaten the rule of law and the sanctity of our elections, know they cannot succeed if you vote.”
In an audio recording of Mitchell’s presentation at a recent Republican National Committee retreat, she warns of polling places on college campuses and the ease of voting as potential problems, The Washington Post reported.
Most of the students and parents in the audience cheered throughout Cheney’s remarks, but some booed. Some students opposed to Cheney’s choice as speaker turned their chairs away from the stage as she spoke.
Cheney’s busy speaking schedule and topic have fueled speculation about whether she could enter the 2024 GOP presidential primary since leaving office. Candidates ranging from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley have calibrated their remarks about Trump, aiming to counter his attacks without alienating the supporters who won him the White House seven years ago. .
Although some have issued measured criticism, no avowed or potential challenger has embraced anti-Trump messages to the same extent as Cheney. She did not refer to her plans on Sunday, but has previously said she remains undecided on whether she wants to run for president.
Though she would face an uphill battle, Cheney’s fierce anti-Trump stance and her role as House committee vice-chairman raised her platform high enough to appeal to a nationwide network of donors and critics. of Trump to support a race for the White House.
A super PAC organized to support his candidacy has remained active, including buying attack ads on New Hampshire airwaves against Trump this month.
After leaving office and being replaced by a Trump-backed Republican who defeated her in the primary last year, Cheney was made a professor at the University of Virginia and wrote “Oath and Honor,” a memoir due out in November.
Two of Cheney’s five children and his mother are also liberal arts college graduates.
Cheney’s speaking tour appears to be resuming. She is scheduled to appear Thursday at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan.
Metz reported from Salt Lake City.
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