During the 2012 presidential election, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin cemented her reputation as a willing stenographer for Mitt Romney. Now in a new piece for the Post ("Ten reasons why Liz Cheney should run"), Rubin has transferred her affections to Dick Cheney's daughter, Liz. As it turns out, that is altogether fitting. By manipulating her state of residence and breaking her word in order to challenge an incumbent from her own party, Liz Cheney is just following in the footsteps of another offspring of the GOP elite, Mitt Romney.
In early May, 2012, Politico reported on her ambitions, explaining "Cheney is currently a McLean, Va., resident and there has long been speculation among Republicans that she would eventually run for office there." But just three weeks after Jonathan Martin wrote that she and husband "hope to buy a house in Jackson Hole, where her parents also have a residence, but the move is not a sure thing," Liz Cheney did just that. On May 25, 2012, CBS announced the former Bush State Department official purchased a $1.9 million home in Jackson. Denying that her relocation was politically motivated, Cheney in August 2012 said only, "Right now I'm very focused on 2012."
Last year, Tammy Hooper, chairwoman of the Wyoming Republican Party supported Liz Cheney's purported disinterest in taking on incumbent Republican Senator Mike Enzi
"She said, 'Well, what can I do to help you?' Because when I became the chairman, she was very supportive," Hooper said. "I said, you know, 'Come and help us raise money and help these counties raise money.'"Cheney's own remarks last August seemed to support her claim that "the move to Wyoming wasn't motivated by politics":
..."I've never heard her say in any of her speeches I've been to, 'Gee, I'm considering running or in a couple of years I'm going to run,'" Hooper said.
"We're really excited about moving home," she said. "My kids are thrilled. They love Wyoming and they're excited to be close to their grandparents again."It's no wonder her "old friend" Mike Enzi is now feeling so betrayed. "She said that if I ran, she wasn't going to run, but obviously that wasn't correct," Enzi said this week, adding: "I thought we were friends." As NBC News made clear Thursday, Mike Enzi made a huge mistake when he believed in Liz Cheney's loyalty and her word:
She said she hasn't spoken with Sen. Mike Enzi, who some have speculated could decide to bow out in 2014, opening the door for Cheney.
"Sen. Enzi is a terrific senator and an old friend," she said. "I'm sure he'll let folks know when he's ready to let folks know about his decision in 2014."
"I think Sen. Enzi may be confused. I think he may have me mixed up with Cynthia Lummis," Cheney said at a campaign stop in Casper, Wyo. "What happened is I called Sen. Enzi to tell him that I was considering a run. And I have always believed that that decision should be made irrespective of whoever else is in the race."If this tale of Republican betrayal and opportunism sounds familiar, it should. To become Massachusetts Governor back in 2002, Mitt Romney followed pretty much the same script.
She added: "It's not true -- I did not tell Sen. Enzi I wouldn't run if he did. I suppose he's just confused."
In the summer of 2001, you'll recall, Mitt Romney was running the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. But whether or not he still had an "active" role with Bain back in Boston, Romney was very actively - and publicly - plotting his political future. On August 20, 2001, the Deseret News reported that "Mitt Romney won't return to the business world after the 2002 Winter Games but instead will pursue public service, possibly elected office." The only question was where:
Romney, who made the announcement Monday, declined to say whether he intends to seek office either in Utah or Massachusetts, where he was managing partner and CEO of Bain Capital. He said he would not return to the venture capital firm as originally planned.On its face, Utah seemed like the obvious choice. After all, he and his wife Ann had been living in their $3.8 million mansion near Park City for over two years. (It was that property, and his tax payments to the state of Utah on it as his "primary residence" that brought up the Massachusetts eligibility question in 2002.) As Mitt noted at the time, "the kids and grandkids are increasingly in Utah" and "the snow, the horses and the mountain are here." And as Michael Kranish and Scott Helman later explained in The Real Romney, his wife Ann had "'huge qualms' about going back east, because her multiple sclerosis symptoms had abated during three years in Utah. 'I've been healthy here,' she said."
But Utah's Republican Governor Mike Leavitt wasn't up for reelection until 2004 and GOP Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett showed no signs of retiring. That meant that Romney's only other choice was to go back to Massachusetts and challenge the Republican incumbent governor, Jane Swift.
To be sure, Swift's tenure as acting Governor following the departure of Paul Cellucci in April 2001 had been troubled, to be kind. But despite her bungling in Boston and dismal poll numbers, Mitt Romney had promised he would not challenge her in the 2002 Republican primary. As Deseret News reported in August 2001:
Although he has been touted as a likely candidate in next year's Massachusetts gubernatorial race, Romney said again Monday he will not challenge a fellow Republican. The current governor, Jane Swift, a new mother of twins, was lieutenant governor when she assumed the top spot after the Bush administration named GOP Gov. Paul Cellucci as ambassador to Canada.Romney continued to maintain that posture into early 2002. Despite the clamor from Massachusetts Republicans for him to jump in the race against the weakened Swift, Romney said that February he was still unlikely to do so:
Just last week Romney told CNN when asked about a challenge to Swift: "I'm pretty careful not to absolutely rule out anything, but I do think it would take an unusual circumstance for me to run against an incumbent from my own party. I'm very careful to make sure that even when doors seem pretty closed (to running), there's always a little opening."Given that background, it's no surprise that Swift spokesman Jim Borghesani told the Boston Herald at the time:
He told the Deseret News he has turned down requests to allow political polling on his behalf and has yet to set up an exploratory committee to look at the race. But Romney knows he doesn't have much time if he's going to choose Massachusetts over Utah.
"Mitt Romney has said in the past that he supports Jane Swift for governor. She takes him at his word."She shouldn't have.
As the Boston Globe revealed just a few weeks later on March 7, 2002, Romney had indeed been doing polling in Massachusetts, the results of which showed him mauling Swift and beating his likely Democratic opponents. And as Kranish and Helman reported, "his agents were on the ground quickly signing up staff and consultants and scheduling an announcement - whether Swift was in or out." By March 17, they wrote, "the Romneys, decked out in matching jackets with an Olympic theme, flew back to Massachusetts." Two days later, Jane Swift, the first woman to lead Massachusetts, pulled out of the race. To add insult to injury:
Romney never called Swift to say he had changed his mind and would run for governor after all. Swift found out from her staff, which had gotten wind that Romney had rented a big hotel ballroom.Swift's departure from the race came on the same day as Romney's entry into it. As Time reported, the press conference by "Governor Mom" was an emotional one:
Jane Swift looked like she had been through hell. Her eyes were swimming with tears that she refused to let fall. Voice quavering, the acting governor of Massachusetts announced Tuesday that she would not run for the governor's seat this fall. Swift looked as shocked as the members of the state's political establishment, who were expecting her to put up a fight. Only the day before, she was defiantly vowing to contest a late primary challenge from Mitt Romney, chairman of the recent Winter Olympics. But after a night discussing what that fight would be like with her closest advisers and her husband, she was dropping out of the race. "I've never walked away from a fight in my life," Swift said. "That's probably the toughest part of this."The rest is history. And Liz Cheney seems determined to repeat it, with two notable exceptions. To secure the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney was forced to run to the right, ultimately repudiating almost everything his father stood for. (That did not prevent him from using father George's rags-to-riches story and strong record on civil rights as pillars of his own campaign.) In contrast, Liz Cheney is very much her father's daughter, regurgitating the same toxic brew of hardline neo-conservatism and incendiary rhetoric.
And one other thing. As her ambition to render Mike Enzi road kill on the road to the United States Senate and beyond, Liz Cheney doesn't plan on losing. Ever.