Q&A

Liz Cheney: Why My Father Won’t Campaign for Me

The former vice president’s daughter — shunned by the GOP establishment — will go it alone in her campaign to become senator from Wyoming.

Wyoming Senate candidate Liz Cheney holds a news conference at the Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne, Wyoming on July 17, 2013. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, will run against longtime incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY). Cheney launched her campaign yesterday following Enzi's announcement that he will run for a fourth term. 
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Marin Cogan
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Marin Cogan
Sept. 26, 2013, 4:05 p.m.

On the cam­paign trail with her kids, Liz Cheney is vis­it­ing many of the same places that she saw 35 years ago, when she joined her fath­er, former Vice Pres­id­ent Dick Cheney, in a ren­ted RV for the fam­ily’s first cam­paign across Wyom­ing. Even apart from her fam­ous fath­er, Cheney has qual­it­ies that might en­dear her to a Re­pub­lic­an primary elect­or­ate. But there’s a snag: The Sen­ate seat she’s run­ning for is oc­cu­pied by a mem­ber of her own party, Mi­chael En­zi, whom many Re­pub­lic­ans think doesn’t de­serve a chal­lenge in the 2014 primary. Cheney chat­ted with Na­tion­al Journ­al about why the Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment likes En­zi and why Dad won’t join her on the cam­paign trail. Ed­ited ex­cerpts fol­low.

NJ This week, Mike En­zi stood on the Sen­ate floor in sup­port of Ted Cruz, who was protest­ing Obama­care. Do you think he would have been up there if you wer­en’t chal­len­ging him?

CHENEY A lot of what Sen­at­or En­zi’s do­ing now is a day late and dol­lar short. On Face­book and on my Twit­ter feed, you’ll see people point­ing out that he’s sud­denly got­ten en­er­gized on a num­ber of these causes be­cause he’s fa­cing a primary chal­lenge. The sen­at­or’s been there for al­most 18 years, and the people of Wyom­ing are ask­ing, “What has he done to de­fend and pro­tect them in the last four and a half years of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion? What has he done to pro­tect from massive en­croach­ment of fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in our lives?”

NJ Who would be your al­lies, in terms of be­liefs, if you were elec­ted to the Sen­ate?

CHENEY There are a num­ber of the young­er sen­at­ors I have been im­pressed with. Ted [Cruz] is one of them, Mike Lee is an­oth­er one. There is a shift go­ing on in the Sen­ate today. A new gen­er­a­tion com­ing in. After our party has lost two pres­id­en­tial elec­tions in a row, if there’s some soul-search­ing go­ing on, that’s a good thing. It’s time for a new gen­er­a­tion to step up and some of the old guard needs to step down. We need to deal with chal­lenges across the board — eco­nom­ic and do­mest­ic policy as well as for­eign. It will take a new gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers.

NJ A lot of Re­pub­lic­ans, in Wash­ing­ton and Wyom­ing, seem to think En­zi is already con­ser­vat­ive enough. Why isn’t he? What are the is­sues on which you dif­fer?

CHENEY Sen­at­or En­zi’s hall­mark ac­com­plish­ment, one he doesn’t men­tion much, is the In­ter­net sales tax. It’s a job-killing tax that im­poses an un­be­liev­able new bur­eau­cracy of audits and reg­u­la­tions on new busi­nesses. Secondly, Sen­at­or En­zi ne­go­ti­ated for months as part of the Gang of Six for Obama­care in 2009. That was a big mis­take. He gave cov­er to Pres­id­ent Obama so he could say, “Look, I got the GOP in­volved in this ef­fort,” which we all know was rammed through on a par­tis­an vote. The sen­at­or should have ob­jec­ted from the very be­gin­ning. We dif­fer on Com­mon Core. Sen­at­or En­zi has praised it; I think it hasn’t been tested and is go­ing to be harm­ful to our kids. In gen­er­al, his 80-20 rule — he says in Wash­ing­ton every­one agrees on 80 per­cent of is­sues. We do not agree with Pres­id­ent Obama on even 20 per­cent of is­sues. Our job ought to be look­ing for ways to sig­ni­fic­antly re­duce the size of fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

NJ Were you sur­prised at the ex­tent to which the GOP es­tab­lish­ment ral­lied around En­zi?

CHENEY No, he’s the in­cum­bent sen­at­or; he’s part of the es­tab­lish­ment. It’s something that helps me in Wyom­ing. For a lot of people in Wyom­ing, it makes them angry — the idea that people in Wash­ing­ton will tell them how to vote, the idea that the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee will pick the win­ner of this primary. There is an­ger from a lot of folks. This is not a time when we need more es­tab­lish­ment.

NJ Alan Simpson is be­ing quite vo­cal about his dis­agree­ment with your fam­ily, even though he’s known you and had a re­la­tion­ship with your fam­ily for years.

CHENEY Yeah. Al is def­in­itely es­tab­lish­ment and quite lib­er­al, and I wasn’t sur­prised that Mike En­zi would be his can­did­ate.

NJ You were a key ad­viser for your fath­er. How’s he help­ing you in this cam­paign?

CHENEY I am very proud of my dad, ob­vi­ously, and I love him very much. He was very ex­cited when I told him I was get­ting in the race. He’s thrilled, but he re­cog­nizes that this is my race, and he won’t be out on the trail cam­paign­ing for me. It’s very im­port­ant for me to do this one vote at a time my­self. And that’s how I plan to do it.

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