Christine Todd Whitman: GOP Now a ‘Cult of Personality’

Christine Todd Whitman: GOP Now a 'Cult of Personality' chistine todd whitman sits with chin resting on clasped hands Christine Todd Whitman attends Making Strides: Advancing Women's Leadership – Opening Reception at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens on November 17, 2015, in Miami, Florida. (Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Eisenhower Fellowships)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 06 May 2021 12:06 PM

The modern-day Republican Party, with its embrace of former President Donald Trump, has turned into a "cult of personality" and the push to remove Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership post in the House shows the party is no longer based on its core principles, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman said Thursday.

"It's clear this is not about policy," Whitman, who insists she'll remain a Republican despite her opinions on the party's direction, said on CNN's "New Day." "When you take somebody like Liz Cheney, who voted on Republican issues 80% to 90% of the time, and they want to replace her with somebody like Elise Stefanik, who only voted with the Republicans 50% to 60% of the time, you're not worried about policy. You're worried about one man."

And, she added, "that should scare everybody."

"That should not be a political party making policy for our country, because it doesn't have a central core beyond what Donald Trump tells it," said Whitman, adding that is what has turned her party into a "cult of personality."

Cheney, in an opinion piece for The Washington Post Wednesday, said the Republican Party has reached a "turning point," but Whitman said she doesn't agree with that.

"The only place I would disagree with Liz Cheney on her op-ed is she said it's at a turning point," said Whitman. "I think they turned that quite a while ago."

The violent protests on Jan. 6 at the Capitol were a "direct result of this feeling the (2020) election had been stolen," Whitman added. "Some people actually legitimately feel this because they've been fed it for so long."

She also spoke out against the Arizona recount, which is costing taxpayers more than $1 million to audit ballots yet another time.

"They're trying to keep everything hidden, not telling people how they're proceeding with it," said Whitman. "They've already messed it up because they took blue pencils in that could potentially change a ballot. It's gotten out of control. The thing about our country is the right to choose our leaders and respect for the outcome of the polls."

Cheney is likely to lose her seat chairing the House Republican Conference, said Whitman, adding that that means the party can no longer call itself a party of principles.

Instead, the party is shifting into being one based on "whatever Donald Trump tells us to believe at any time, that's what we will do and say (and) it's going to be very hard for people to deny this," said Whitman. "She's bringing it straight into their faces … she's standing up for the principles and she's going to lose her job over it, but she will be regarded as a true leader because of what she's doing."

But even with the party differences, Whitman said she remains a registered Republican and will stay that way because she believes the country does better with two major parties.

"I don't believe we would function, well given our multiplicity of levels of government, if we had a multi-party system," she said. "We should have two systems. The Democrats have to be careful. They're moving far to the left and they're going to alienate a great deal of the population. If you look at registration numbers, the party that's growing are the independents and unaffiliated. Both Democrats and Republicans are losing support."

Whitman also said she agrees with Cheney on the results of the 2020 election, but she thinks the party needs more people like the lawmaker to speak out.

"Joe Biden won," said Whitman. "That's it. Period, the end. Sixty lawsuits that have been thrown out that proves that."

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