Liz Cheney's Failed Campaign Highlights the Declining Influence of GOP Hawks



Liz Cheney has ended her Senate campaign. The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney announced that she would no longer pursue a GOP primary campaign against Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi. National Journal's Josh Kraushaar has the right takeaway: 

But most significantly, Cheney found that her calling card in public life as a spokesperson for a muscular, hawkish foreign policy just wasn't playing politically—even in a Republican primary in a deeply conservative state. Cheney entered the race as a go-to conservative expert on the Middle East, but she barely talked about foreign policy on the campaign trail. Voters were more interested in her views on gay marriage than her bromides against the Obama administration over Benghazi.

Her dropping out is a symbolic nail in the coffin to the politics of the Bush-Cheney administration, when foreign policy trumped all and aggressive tactics to combat Islamic extremism were initially greeted with public support. 

Cheney dropped out because she had no chance. And she had no chance in part because of the declining influence of the Republican Party's most hawkish members. Her run was, as much as anything, intended as a way to make some noise about the foreign policy issues that party hawks thought were getting lost in the shuffle, and to serve as an opposing voice to what is easiest to describe as the Rand Paul wing of the GOP, which is more worried about civil liberties and less interested in overseas adventurism or maximizing defense-sector spending. That Cheney's campaign gives a sense of the electoral landscape within the GOP. It's hard out there for a hawk.

Cheney's decision to drop out hinged on all sorts of factors that don't necessarily transfer to other races. But if there's a broader lesson here, it's that the party's hawkish old guard may be having more trouble than it used to keeping its candidates afloat. The interest just isn't there. If that's the case, then New Jersey Governor, and likely GOP presidential candidate in 2016, Chris Christie is the most obvious potential loser. He's already settled into the role of the anti-Rand Paul, the anti-libertarian, and the establishment favorite. That's not to say he can't take the nomination. But it does mean that he could have a harder time than someone in that position would have in previous races. 

NEXT: Reason Writers Around Town: Brian Doherty on Siegel and Shuster at the Los Angeles Review of Books

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  1. What will Shrike talk about now?

    1. This changes nothing. Shrike will continue to blame BOOOOSH for every car accident, weather anomaly, and crying baby.

  2. She was trying to run a anti establishment republican campaign, but forgot her last name was Cheney.

  3. She doesn’t deserve the hallowed title of US Senator.…..nt-deserve

    1. Hallowed? Really?

  4. likely GOP presidential candidate


    I dont think that was ever the case.

    Oh wait, this is a Suderman column, nevermind.

    1. Meh, my money’s still on the GOP nominating El Fatso to run against Hillary. Which he will most certainly lose.

      1. The lulz will still be good but I’d rather have Biden for President.

      2. that this is a more than plausible scenario speaks poorly as to what this formerly great country has become.

      3. The loser will be whoever has the unenviable makeup job at the debates.

        How do you make Hillary look less haggard and fugly? How do you make Christie look less morbidly obese?

        Answer: giant podiums. Hillary hides behind her’s and Christie’s dwarfed by his. Brilliant, I know.

        1. How about we put both of them inside the giant podium and strap it to a heavy lift rocket aimed at the sun?

          1. What did the sun ever do to you!?

            1. I imagine the ensuing solar flare retaliation will be a world-ender. And deservedly so!

        2. There’s a lot of good reasons to knock Christie but electability isn’t so much one of them. I think he’s a solid bet.

      4. Meh, my money’s still on the GOP nominating El Fatso to run against Hillary. Which he will most certainly lose.

        I don’t know about that. Hillary has never ‘won’ anything competitive in her life, no matter the odds stacked in her favor. Pissing away the Clowncrat Coronation to a completely vacuous suit was proof of Hillary’s true capacities.

      5. If Christie wins the nomination, you can place most of the blame on the GOP voters, and not the “establishment”.

        If I recall correctly, Ron Paul didn’t win a single state in the 2012 primary. Newt Gringrich and Rick Santorum won a handful of states.

        Rand will clean house in the reddest parts of the country, because conservatives there detest Christie for the same reason libertarians hate him. But Christie will probably win all the big states and purplish ones because he’s a moderate. Libertarians are getting big, but they ain’t THAT big.

    2. You don’t think he is likely to run for the nomination?

    3. Candidate is not synonymous with nominee

  5. I won’t believe the GOP has given up on warmongering until that fat ass Peter King is laughed off a presidential primary debate stage.

    1. Either Lindsey Graham or John McCain getting primaried might also be cause for some believin.

      I think in the case of Graham, it’s a very real possibility. We’ll probably have to wait for McCain to drop over one day while still on the job.

      1. Except he might live as long as his mother.

  6. Christie’s “message”:

    9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11

    Will the rubes fall for it?


    1. Didn’t work for Rudy G, and that was a lot closer to the actual attack than November 2016.


    Because Chelsea won’t give her grandbabies.

  8. Wyoming’s brand of conservatism never has been very compatible with neoconservative interventionists. Voters there are more interested in liberty and self-reliance. It’s also a place where bars and package stores have always been open on Sundays, because for many, that might be the only day of the week when they can go into town.

    1. I grew up in conservative (read: Busybody Mormon right-wing) Idaho. We’d go to Wyoming for stronger beer, cheaper booze, cheaper fishing, and fireworks that actually did something.

      1. Ever since P Brooks’ anecdotes dashed my wishful preconceptions of Montana, I’ve imagined Wyoming as libertopian Shambhala instead.

        1. I’ll be reporting from MT in a few months, so stay tuned…

  9. I dont think that dude even has a clue man.

  10. The only thing this proves is that Republicans don’t want to get rid of their incumbent Republican Senator for someone they barely know. Its not like she would have lost against a Democrat.

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