One of former President Trump’s top supporters in Congress held a rally Thursday in Wyoming to blast the state’s sole House member – Rep. Liz Cheney – the most high-profile House Republican to vote two weeks ago to impeach Trump.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, standing in front of a boisterous crowd gathered at the steps of the Wyoming state capitol, delivered a populist speech as he repeatedly slammed Cheney as a member of the Washington “establishment in both political parties have teamed up to screw our fellow Americans for generations.”
And pushing Trump’s “America First” message of limiting the use of American troops in international conflicts, Gaetz took aim at Cheney, who’s long followed in the footsteps of her father – former Vice President Dick Cheney – in advocating for a hawkish and muscular U.S. role overseas.
Targeting Cheney – who was a very vocal critic of the Trump administration’s foreign policy – Gaetz charged that “there’s basically two things that Liz Cheney has done in the United States Congress – frustrate the agenda of President Trump and sell out to the forever war machine.”
And Gaetz said, “Liz Cheney taunts me for wearing makeup in my television appearances. Now, makeup only hides the slightest imperfections of the skin. It does very little to conceal the soulless corruption of Washington, D.C. It’s really easy for me to get a little makeup off my shirt. Far more difficult for Liz Cheney to get the blood off her hands for sending America’s best to foreign lands to die.”
The congressman was responding to a jab earlier this week from a Cheney spokesperson that “Gaetz can leave his beauty bag at home. In Wyoming, the men don’t wear makeup.”
Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican in leadership, has been pilloried by many of her GOP colleagues in the chamber for voting to impeach Trump. Cheney was one of only 10 Republicans who joined all 222 House Democrats in voting to impeach the president for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
More than half of House Republican members are backing an effort to remove Cheney from her leadership position as House Republican Conference chair. She’s received tepid support from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House. Cheney’s also now facing multiple primary challenges.
Gaetz jabbed at Cheney for spending more time at her home outside of the nation’s capital than in Wyoming.
“This is my first time in Wyoming. I’ve been here an hour and feel like I already know the place a lot better than your misguided representative Liz Cheney,” he said.
“In Washington, D.C., the private insider club of Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Liz Cheney — they want to return our government to its default setting, enriching them, making them more powerful at our expense. But we can stop them and it starts right here in Wyoming,” he said.
Gaetz told the crowd, “You have the power to defeat Liz Cheney in this upcoming election, and Wyoming will bring Washington to its knees.” And he argued that “a nation that sends its best to go fight in the worst places in the world should not send its worst to be representatives in the United States Congress.”
He accused Cheney of being in the pockets of special interests. “In a lot of ways, LIz Cheney is exactly like Congress, deeply unpopular and owned by special interests,” he said. “She works for them, not you. She does their bidding, yours.”
Wednesday night, on the eve of Gaetz’s trip to Wyoming, the former president’s leadership political action committee, Save America, released a poll that suggested that Cheney was politically wounded among Republicans by her vote to impeach Trump.
Gaetz told the crowd that he had spoken with Trump and said the former president wanted to share the poll results.
“Liz Cheney less popular among Republicans in her own state than Muammar Gaddafi was among the Libyans,” Gaetz cracked.
Seconds later, Donald Trump Jr. called into the rally to also attack Cheney. Pointing to her father’s infamous hunting accident, when the then-vice president wounded a friend, Trump’s eldest son argued: “It seems like Liz Cheney’s favorables there are only slightly worse than her father’s shooting skills.
“Since the people of Wyoming are clearly not thrilled with Liz Cheney, let’s find someone who can replace her,” Trump Jr. implored.
But he warned against having multiple primary challengers that could divide the anti-Cheney vote in next year’s primary saying, “Let’s not split this vote up and blow an opportunity to get rid of a RINO.”
RINO is the acronym for Republican in name only.
Cheney has pushed back from the criticism. “I’m not going anywhere. This is a vote of conscience,” she told Politico soon after her vote to impeach Trump. “It’s one where there are different views in our conference. But our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the Civil War, constitutional crisis.”
A number of high-profile current and former Republicans in Congress have come to her side, as have plenty of former GOP leaders in Wyoming.
“Wyoming doesn’t like it when outsiders come into our state and try to tell us what to do,” former Wyoming state Rep. Amy Edmonds said on Thursday in response to the trip by Gaetz.
The congressman ended his nearly 25-minute speech by vowing, “We are in a battle for the soul of the Republican Party and I intend to win it.”