“Everyone in leadership serves at the pleasure of the conference and as you know, there’s a lot at stake. Democrats are destroying the nation,” McCarthy told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo. “That’s why we will have a vote next week and we want to be united.”
While holding that No. 3 position, Stefanik said, Cheney has failed in her duty to “speak with a unified voice for the majority of Republican members.”
“When you are the conference chair and communicating and in charge of the message of the party in the House, you have to represent a majority of the members and the majority of the voters across this country,” Stefanik said. “There has been significant frustration among the members of the Republican conference that she is no longer doing that, and we hear that frustration at home among voters,” she said, arguing that unified message will be “really important going into 2022 to have the best chance to win back the majority.”
The conference chair position is “not an opportunity to share your personal views — whatever they may be,” Stefanik added. “You speak for the team,” she said. “I would also make sure we’re not attacking our fellow members and attacking President Trump and Trump supporters.”
As the internecine struggle played out last week, some GOP leaders were blunt about their view that the party must stand by the former President as a matter of political survival — no matter how he is perceived by the broader public — an unpredictable facet of the current political environment that will be tested in swing districts in 2022.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — who warned after Trump’s February speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference that the former President has the ability to expand the Republican party or “destroy it” — outlined the Republican Party’s current calculus in clear terms when he was asked about Cheney.
But a few Republicans, mostly outside of Washington, have warned against the intolerance within the party toward members with divergent views about the former President.
“The resolution to censure him actually failed. And that was with, again, a small number of delegates — theoretically, the most passionate and maybe extreme number of delegates,” Cox said. “But the truth is that we believe here in Utah that there is room in the party for both Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Mike Lee. And they’re working together on some really important legislation. And I hope there’s room in the party for all of those voices.”
“For us to win in 2022 and 2024 we need everybody,” Cassidy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We need those who feel as Liz (Cheney), we need those who feel as Lindsey (Graham). Ultimately it’s about the polices, you see that Cheney, Cassidy support those policies. Those policies are a ticket to victory.”
No room for independence
Independent thought, and even dissension, have been tolerated during other phases of Republican Party history. But the leaders who have reaped the greatest rewards since 2016 have fallen in lockstep with Trump — and Stefanik’s sudden ascent is a case in point.
“As one of my Republican Senate colleagues said to me following my impeachment vote: ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group that punished someone for following their conscience,'” Romney added.
But at least in Congress, the wing of the Republican Party willing to do just that appears to be growing.
In Cheney’s view, the omission of that information about Trump’s vulnerabilities demonstrated the depths of denial within the party about the threat he poses, according to the Post reporting.
The 2022 midterms will test which side of the GOP is right on that question. But as the party continues to purge and punish the few members willing to contradict Trump, they aren’t showing voters much about what they stand for, other than blind loyalty to a President who lost.
This story has been updated with additional details Sunday.