Cheney strikes defiant tone in concession speech: ‘Now the real work begins’

Associated Press/Jae C. Hong

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) sounded defiant in her concession speech on Tuesday, acknowledging that while she had lost her primary, she would do “whatever it takes” to keep former President Trump from getting near the White House again. 

“Two years ago, I won this primary with 73 percent of the votes. I could easily have done the same again, the path was clear, but it would have required that I go along with President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election,” Cheney said from an outdoor stage in Jackson, Wyo., to an enthusiastic crowd.

“It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel a democratic system and attack the foundations of our Republic. That was a path I could not and would not take,” she continued to applause. “No House seat, no office in this land is more important than the principles that we are all sworn to protect. And I well understood the potential political consequences of abiding by my duty.”

Cheney said she had called her primary opponent, attorney Harriet Hageman (R), to concede. But she suggested this was just the beginning of her next chapter.

“The primary election is over,” she said. “But now the real work begins.”

Hageman’s primary win, riding on Trump’s endorsement, was months in the making after Cheney became one of his most vocal Republican critics, voting to impeach him following the Capitol riot and later serving on the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack. 

Cheney’s speech, delivered in front of a backdrop of lush rolling hills as she stood flanked by American flags, sounded less like a concession and more like a call to action. She urged Americans not to adhere to Trump’s baseless claims about the election and to stand up for democratic values. 

The Wyoming Republican warned that the survival of the country was “not guaranteed,” noting that “poisonous lies destroy free nations” — partly alluding to Trump’s dubious claims about the 2020 election. 

She noted that there were candidates for governor and secretary of state who did not believe the validity of President Biden’s 2020 election or might avoid reporting the actual election results, cautioning that “our nation is barreling once again toward crisis, lawlessness and violence.”

Cheney also referenced two former presidents — Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant — two presidents whose legacies are tied to the Civil War and who fought to keep the nation’s union intact, further fueling speculation about Cheney’s own possible White House ambitions.

The speech comes as Cheney was the last pro-impeachment Republican to face a primary this cycle. Only two House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump advanced in their primary, while Cheney and seven others either lost their respective races or opted not to run again.

Tags 2022 midterms Harriet Hageman Liz Cheney primaries Wyoming
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