ORLANDO — Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) called McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) the leaders of the Republican Party on Monday, pointedly avoiding bestowing the title on Trump, with whom she has been openly feuding since a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“I think right now, the Republican Party is headed by Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy,” Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, said at the start of a House GOP policy conference here. “I think our elected leaders are the ones who are in charge of the Republican Party. And I think as we look at 2022 and 2024, we’re very much really focused on substance and on the issues, and I think that’s where we’ve got to attract back the voters that we lost in 2020 — conveying to them that, in fact, we are the party that they can trust.”
Cheney, however, did emphasize a policy priority that served as a signature initiative of the Trump presidency: building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I think that’s one of the things that President Biden could very easily do,” she said. “He stopped construction of the wall; he ought to restart that again.”
Cheney declined to describe a role for Trump, even though she was asked specifically about him. Earlier this year, after the Jan. 6 insurrection, Cheney voted to impeach Trump — one of only 10 in her party to do so.
Cheney also stressed another issue Trump has repeatedly emphasized: China.
“While we have been very focused, as we should have been, on a whole range of domestic issues,” she said, “the Chinese government has been moving very aggressively, and I think in Congress, we need to take whatever steps are necessary.”
Republicans are using the conference to attempt to rally around a set of policy ideas and political talking points they can sell to voters as a counter to Biden’s agenda as his administration nears its 100th day in office.