Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosMcAuliffe rolls out new ad hitting back at Youngkin on education Biden DOJ tries to shield DeVos from deposition in lawsuit over student loans The long con targeting student survivors of sexual assault MORE said that "principles have been overtaken by personalities" in the Republican Party, an apparent criticism of former President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE's singular influence over the party, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Speaking at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference on Saturday, DeVos said that while personalities are important in steering the party, "ours is not a movement dependent on any one person."
"Politics now are so often about people, not the policies that impact lives directly," DeVos told attendees on Saturday, according to the Free Press.
The Mackinac conference is a traditional testing ground for potential GOP presidential candidates, though many in the party are waiting for former Trump to decide on his reelection bid before going public with theirs.
Few prominent Republicans have dared to openly criticize Trump since he left office, though DeVos — who is also a major GOP donor — is not alone in expressing concern about where he is taking the party. A recent Associated Press-NORC poll showed less than half of Republicans are optimistic about the GOP’s future.
During her speech this weekend, DeVos compared her time in Washington to a trip to the dentist, saying she's glad it's over.
And she said education freedom, a priority during her time in Trump's Cabinet, remains an important issue in the party, criticizing Michigan’s constitutional ban on public dollars funding private schools.
"Education is about students, not systems," said DeVos, an advocate for charter schools and public funding for parochial schools. Education funding, she added, "should be tied to students, not systems and buildings."