GOP Rep. Liz Cheney returned to the campaign trail in Michigan Tuesday night, receiving standing ovations more than 1,600 miles from her Wyoming home — and a life away from the Republican politics that have been the heart of her family.
“If we want to ensure the survival of the republic, we have to get away from politics as usual,” Cheney said. “We have to stand up – all of us – and say we’re going to do what’s right for this country. We are going to look beyond partisan politics.”
A week after Cheney offered a surprise endorsement to Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat whom she praised as a “good and honorable public servant,” Cheney traveled here to deliver the message in person.
She said a peaceful transfer of power was essential to a functioning democracy and should be demanded by both Republicans and Democrats.
“The chips are down for us. This is our testing time,” Cheney said. “Not one of us in this room and not one of us across this country can be a bystander. We must all stand up and defend this republic.”
Slotkin, first elected in 2018, is the only Democrat serving in the House representing a congressional district won by Mitt Romney in 2012 and Trump in 2016 and 2020. She urged independents and Republicans to join their campaign, hoping Cheney’s visit would offer a last-minute burst of support in a highly competitive race.
“Welcome to Michigan!” Slotkin said, admitting bluntly that she would not have imagined herself sharing a stage with Cheney two years ago.
It was an assessment that Cheney shared, saying: “This is, by the way, the first time I’ve ever campaigned for a Democrat.”
Cheney and Slotkin serve together on the House Armed Services Committee, sitting on different sides of the political aisle and having different views on many aspects of domestic and foreign policy. They said they came together through their shared views on what they see as the most pressing threats to democracy.
“The truth is that Liz and I differ on many substantive policy issues,” Slotkin said. “But there is one very big thing that we agree on. That is to preserve American democracy, which is what each and every one of us here loves so desperately.”
The rally, billed as “an evening of patriotism and bipartisanship,” drew a crowd of about 600 people to the East Lansing High School gymnasium. It was unlike anything Cheney experienced during his own race in Wyoming earlier this year.
Her campaign stops were largely limited to living rooms and other private events, as she faced numerous security threats and the anger of Republicans furious over her role on the committee that investigated the Capitol attack on January 6, 202, and on his vote to impeach Donald. Trump.
Slotkin, a former CIA officer and Pentagon official during the Bush and Obama administrations, is locked in a competitive race with state GOP Sen. Tom Barrett in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District, which is anchored in Lansing and nearby counties.
Michigan Republicans were also paying close attention to Cheney’s visit.
“This is going to fire up Republicans, sure, it’s going to fire up independents,” Barrett told CNN in an interview on Tuesday. “It will inflame people who don’t want to see a permanent war machine continue in Washington DC.”
Barrett, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, delivered a scathing critique of Cheney and Slotkin. This week, he announced the support of Harriet Hageman, who defeated Cheney in the Wyoming primary and is on her way to filling her seat.
“People are sick and tired of these establishment forces hanging together, no matter what,” Barrett said during a campaign stop. “The false idea that Elissa Slotkin and Liz Cheney are now part of a non-partisan coalition together, all they’ve given us is the misery we’re all feeling right now.”
Slotkin rejected the suggestion that Cheney’s visit could backfire. She said she was proud to be invited to Michigan and said it was the duty of people in both parties to help protect the country’s fragile democracy.
“When I look at the loudest voices, especially on the other side of the aisle, including my opponent, it’s not about policy. It’s about denying the results of the 2020 election, stoking fear and exclusion of other groups,” Slotkin said. “It feels to me that the soul has left the body at the most advanced levels. But here’s the thing, when republicans are out, so are the Democrats.”