Liz Cheney said Tuesday that Wyoming residents are not very interested in the widely reported stumbles her campaign has suffered in its first few months.
She isn’t either, Cheney said.
“I think the campaign itself has been very much focused on issues and on substance,” she said in an unscheduled call to the Powell Tribune newsroom. “I am very happy about the reception the campaign has gotten around the state from Wyoming voters.”
Cheney called in part to discuss an editorial about her campaign that ran in the Tuesday paper; to promote a speech she is giving in Cody Friday night; and to discuss how her campaign to unseat Sen. Mike Enzi is going.
In addition, she used the opportunity to take repeated jabs at President Barack Obama, and pledged to oppose him and congressional Democrats if she is elected to the Senate. That is what people want to discuss as she travels the state, Cheney said.
“I think the voters of Wyoming are extremely well-informed, and have a lot of good questions about the issues,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful and very heart-warming response across the state.”
Cheney announced her campaign on July 17 and said she has traveled nearly 10,000 miles across Wyoming “talking to people face-to-face” since that time. She was in Emblem this week for a meet-and-greet with Big Horn County residents.
Since she jumped into the race, Cheney has been plagued by reports of matters and events that are not tied to issues, including a report that she had illegally obtained a resident fishing license. Questions about how long she has lived in the state have continued to plague her, and on Sept. 21, her mother, Lynne Cheney, had a sharply worded exchange with former Sen. Al Simpson at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Simpson has spoken with a few reporters and issued a lengthy statement on what happened; Liz Cheney said she disagrees with his recollection. But she said she wants to move on from that.
“I’m very focused on the future,” Cheney said. “That’s my focus. I’ve been focused on issues from the beginning. I’m sure the attacks will continue to come.”
She said she is not surprised Simpson is supporting Enzi.
“Al is going to make his own decision on that,” she said. “He’s a liberal member of the Republican establishment.”
Cheney said people are telling her they feel the Obama administration is “very much threatening our liberty” and its policies are having a “direct and immediate impact on people’s livelihood and the economy.”
That is why she is running, she said.
“The challenges we face as a state are so significant,” Cheney said, noting that people tell her they are “fearful of another three-and-a-half years of this president.”
She said Enzi has been in Washington too long and is too willing to work with Obama and congressional delegates. Cheney said his work in the so-called “Gang of Six” that proposed health care reform options actually gave Obama cover, and allowed him to move ahead with his own program.
“I think we clearly need health care reform,” Cheney said. “But stopping Obamacare is important.”
She favors allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, increasing competition and tort reform to reduce health-care costs. The current government shutdown was caused by Republicans in the House and Senate attempting to block the implementation of Obamacare.
“I think that the House of Representatives proposed a solution last night which the Senate rejected,” Cheney said Tuesday.
The GOP wants to delay Obamacare’s individual mandate for one year, meaning people would not be legally obligated to have coverage, and end the employer health-care contribution for members of Congress and their staff. Cheney called that a “special deal” that should be ended.
“That’s just wrong,” she said, and added that Enzi should return his “subsidy money” to the federal treasury.
“You know, really, put their money where their mouth is,” she said. “Congress should live under the same laws as the American people.”
Enzi noted that he has cosponsored a bill to eliminate the contribution, while also placing the president, vice president and his appointees in the same boat.
“Make Congress feel same pain as American people are feeling,” he said.
Cheney said she does feel Obamacare can be stopped, even with a Democratic majority in the Senate and Obama pledging to veto any bill that seeks to overturn his signature accomplishment.
“I think Republicans have an obligation to do everything they can to fix it,” she said. “It takes leadership. You’ve seen leadership on the part of Ted Cruz.”
Cheney, 47, said she feels Cruz, a Texas senator, and others like herself reflect a new generation of politicians.
“I think there’s a real interesting phenomenon in the Senate, a generational divide,” she said.
Cheney said she is also focusing on the “war on coal” in Wyoming.
“The president has decided to destroy the coal industry, and Wyoming needs leadership to stand up against it,” she said. “If you believe in affordable electricity, you need to be on our side on the war on coal.”
Cheney said she wants to debate Enzi as many times as possible.
“I look forward to that opportunity,” she said. “I look forward to the chance to debate Senator Enzi any place and any time.”
‘doing quite well’
Cheney said she pays little attention to polls conducted early in the race that showed her far behind the three-term senator, and she said some of those surveys had flaws.
“I haven’t seen any numbers since the start,” she said. “I think it’s not a surprise when you come in and you challenge an incumbent that you find yourself behind.
“This is really going to be about earning every single vote, one vote at a time,” Cheney said. “That is why I started this a year out. It takes time.”
She said her fundraising efforts are going well. Initial campaign reports are due in mid-October.
“Money is important in campaigns, and we’re working hard to raise money,” Cheney said.
She said all her money is coming from individuals in and out of the state, while she claims Enzi is counting on money from political action committees (PACs) and lobbyists.
Enzi said he has “got a lot of money from people in Wyoming, individuals,” but he is also accepting donations from groups.
“I’m not leaving any stone unturned, in case this turns out to be a very expensive race,” he said.
Cheney said she thought long and hard before throwing her hat into the ring. The decision to run was “not one I made lightly,” she said.
Cheney repeated an earlier statement that she notified Enzi, as well as Sen. John Barrasso, Rep. Cynthia Lummis and Gov. Matt Mead, that she was planning a run for the Senate.
During an interview in Lovell last month, Enzi said he wasn’t sure what Cheney’s record of accomplishment was. He said while a primary challenge didn’t stun him, he thought it would come from someone with a more proven record in Wyoming.
“He will do anything he can to minimize my record,” Cheney said.
She said she was “raised on Wyoming values,” noting her family arrived in Fremont County in 1907.
Liz Cheney was born in Madison, Wis., but also spent many of her younger years in Wyoming.
“Wyoming is in my blood and always my home,” she said.