Todd Whitman on Trump ‘Cult’ — GOP Will Be Remade or Rejected

In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman addresses the virtual convention on August 17, 2020. The convention, which was once expected to draw 50,000 people to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is now taking place virtually due to the …
Handout/DNCC via Getty Images

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman warned in an interview over the weekend that the removal of Liz Cheney as the head of the Republican Conference was the “final straw,” and if the Republicans continue to embrace former President Donald Trump and his supporters, an alternative to the GOP will emerge.

Whitman said in an interview with taxpayer funded National Public Radio on Saturday:

It was sort of the final straw that made it very hard for anybody to think that the party – the Republican Party, was about anything other than loyalty to Donald Trump, because if you look at Liz Cheney’s voting record in the House, she was extremely loyal. She voted 80 to 90 percent of the time with the Trump administration, whereas Elise Stefanik was about 50 to 60 percent of the time.

So by replacing Liz Cheney with Elise Stefanik, they were saying very clearly nothing matters. It’s not policy. It’s not principle. It’s are you loyal to this man? Because if you dare to cross him, then you’re out. And so that’s not a party. That’s a cult.

The NPR interview was to promote the effort, dubbed “A Call for American Renewal,” and its mission. The list of those behind it reads like a Never Trumper Who’s Who. Among the “founding signatories” are Anthony Scaramucci, Barbara Comstock, Whitman, George Conway, Mark Sanford, Max Boot, Michael Chertoff, Michael Steele, Mona Charen, and Tom Ridge.

Whitman said the new coalition would support other Republicans, like Cheney, “who will say we don’t buy into the big lie” that the 2020 election was illegitimate.

“It’s what the party used to be about,” Whitman said of the effort, which was detailed in an oped published in the Washington Post last week. Charlie Dent, Mary Peters, Denver Riggleman, Michael Steele and Christine Todd Whitman are named as the authors of the commentary, which said, “if we cannot save the Republican Party from itself, we will help save America from extremist elements in the Republican Party.”

“So what would be the – sort of the trigger for determining whether it is time to create an alternative party? Do you have a threshold? What does it look like?” NPR host Michel Martin asked Whitman. She replied:

Well, I think – really, I think it’s going to be after the 2022 elections and whether we can see that we were able to support those candidates who have denied the big lie, who were out there saying we believe in these principles that have been put forward. But we are going to have a open town meeting next month, and we’ll hear from people who are supporting this effort and wanting to go forward with it, the average person who’s out there who’s just hearing about it now and make some decisions based on that. We haven’t put together a hard and fast this-is-the-cutoff point. But patience is running thin.

The “A Call for American Renewal” website includes a “preamble” to the ideology spelled out by the coalition, which, in part, calls supporters to “reject populism and illiberalism, whether of the right or the left,” “condemn all forms of bigotry such as racism, religious intolerance, sexism, and persecution based on sexual orientation,” and says that “solutions to many of America’s greatest challenges can only be found in our diverse communities:”

These United States, born of noble convictions and aspiring to high purpose, have been an exemplar of self-government to humankind. Thus, when in our democratic republic, forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise, it is the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice. We, therefore, declare our intent to catalyze an American renewal, and to either reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.

We call for a rebirth of the American cause and do so in partnership and loyal competition with others committed to the preservation of our Union. With abiding belief in the value and potential of every soul and with goodwill for all, we hereby dedicate ourselves to these principles and make common cause in the flourishing of this great nation and its diverse states, communities, and citizens.

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