Cheney joins Slotkin in Michigan for first-ever campaign event for Democrat
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) speaks at a forum with U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in Lansing, Mich. on Nov. 1, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) argued in East Lansing on Tuesday that the United States is facing an “ongoing assault” by former President Donald Trump and other Republican candidates who continue to spread unproven claims of election fraud.
Cheney’s warning came during a campaign event with U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing).
Slotkin is the first Democrat that Cheney has endorsed or campaigned for. The two-term Democrat, a former CIA and Department of Defense official, is being challenged in the new 7th Congressional District by state Sen. Tom Barretty (R-Charlotte) on Nov. 8.
“I will tell you that as somebody who has grown up in a Republican family – you might not know that – I voted Republican in every single election in which I voted, starting in 1984,” Cheney said. “But I always believed that, fundamentally, when the chips were down people would meet the moment, that people would do what was necessary.”
Cheney reminisced that her political career began with a Michigan connection, when she worked for former President Gerald Ford while her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, was his chief of staff.
“I thought as I came here today, what would Jerry Ford think? And I think that Jerry Ford would be supporting Elissa Slotkin,” Cheney said.
Ford is the only president from Michigan. The Republican represented a Grand Rapids-area U.S. House seat for years and the city is home to his presidential library.
Slotkin said she would not have predicted taking part in an event like the one her campaign hosted Tuesday a few years ago, “especially since, as we were recollecting, about two and a half, three years, ago, the last time that Rep. Cheney was doing something in the Lansing media market, she was sent out to counter something that I was doing in Washington.”
“I remember being a little annoyed. You know, I’m like, stick to Wyoming,” Slotkin joked.
Slotkin said she faced numerous questions about whether hosting an event with Cheney was a wise campaign strategy, but said that ultimately the threats to democracy outweigh all else.
“I just want to say, separate from my remarks, that there has to be something more important than just winning elections,” Slotkin said. “While we are in one of the tightest races in the country – it is a tossup, and we will not know probably until the day after the election who has won – I feel confident in this decision because this country needs more than what it’s getting right now.”
Cheney, who leads the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, was soundly defeated in a Republican primary earlier this year, following the pattern of many Republicans who have opposed Trump.
Slotkin added in response to a question from reporters about the decision to host the event that she is prepared to meet a similar fate.
“I think the best thing that ever happened to me is that in my first year as a member of Congress, I came out in favor of impeaching Donald Trump [the first time] in a Trump voting district,” Slotkin said. “And every day, for three months, I was asked on camera whether I was going to lose my race, be a one-term congresswoman, is that the end of my short political career. It got me really comfortable with the fact that I might not win. But no one dies, and there has to be something more important than just playing to win every single time.”
Cheney said that the unusual circumstances require the country to walk away from politics as usual, which is why she endorsed and campaigned for a Democrat for the first time.
“If we want to ensure the survival of our republic, we have to walk away from politics as usual. We have to walk away. We have to stand up, every one of us, and say we’re going to do what’s right for this country, we’re going to look beyond partisan politics,” Cheney said. “If the people in our party are not doing the job they need to do, then we’re going to vote for the people in the other party.”
Barrett, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, was one of 11 state senators who signed onto a 2021 letter urging members of Congress to examine baseless claims of voter fraud after Trump lost. He has been highly critical of Cheney’s endorsement, tying it to her father, who was vice president under Republican President George W. Bush.
Over the weekend, Barrett welcomed the endorsement of former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who endorsed the 2016 Democratic presidential run of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and then ran for president as a Democrat in 2020.
Gabbard recently announced that she was leaving the Democratic Party and began campaigning for Republicans endorsed by former President Donald Trump like Barrett and GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon, who is seeking to oust Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“@RepLizCheney’s father sent me to war but she doesn’t stand with me, she stands with fellow war monger @ElissaSlotkin. Thank you @tulsigabbard for your leadership and your patriotism!” Barrett tweeted on Sunday.
Gabbard has faced criticism for defending violent authoritarian leaders including Vladimir Putin of Russia, Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Narendra Modi of India.
Neither Liz Cheney nor Slotkin mentioned Barrett by name during their remarks. But Slotkin said that at the most senior levels of the Republican Party, it feels “as though the soul has left the body.”
“I am a Democrat. I can’t fix the Republican party for them. Only they can do that,” Slotkin said. “Until then, with your help, we are going to make clear that when they put up extreme candidates up and down our ballot, we will beat them, and beat them, and beat them, and beat them.”
Slotkin acknowledged that voters may vote based on other issues that are on the top of their mind.
“It is not, I’ll be honest, the first thing I hear about when I am on the street in my district, where people are focused on what are more traditional kitchen table issues,” Slotkin said. “But I believe that protecting our democracy is the ultimate kitchen table issue. In fact, it’s not even the kitchen table. Our democracy is the foundation of the home in which the kitchen table sits.”
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