Liz Cheney was widely seen as a Republican superstar in the making, perhaps even a future president, before she was elected to Congress in 2016. Ms. Cheney never discouraged the talk, but Donald J. Trump shattered her glittering future after she voted to impeach him in 2021 and became a pariah in the G.O.P.
Now, while vowing to do “everything I can” to ensure that Mr. Trump never returns to the White House, Ms. Cheney, a former congresswoman from Wyoming, has suggested that she has not abandoned her own presidential ambitions. In interviews with The Washington Post and USA Today ahead of the publication on Tuesday of her new book, “Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning,” Ms. Cheney broached the possibility of a third-party challenge to Mr. Trump’s candidacy.
“Several years ago, I would not have contemplated a third-party run,” Ms. Cheney told Maeve Reston of The Post. But, she said, “democracy is at risk” in the United States as well as overseas. Ms. Cheney said she would make a final decision in the next few months.
Her comments were in keeping with the answer she gave in October to Jake Tapper of CNN about whether she was ruling out a presidential run. “No, I’m not,” she said.
Ms. Cheney declined to comment to The New York Times.
Despite her remarks, there is no evidence that Ms. Cheney has taken any steps toward running beyond keeping her options open while maximizing her relevancy during a book-promotion tour.
She has not hired any campaign staff members. Close associates of hers say they are unaware of any polling, signature-gathering or related efforts associated with mounting a third-party campaign. Her political action committee, the Great Task, has stalled in activity since the 2022 midterms, when Ms. Cheney backed efforts by some Democratic candidates against Republicans who had claimed the 2020 election was stolen.
In the meantime, time is running short. Filing deadlines to appear on ballots as a third-party candidate in 2024 begin as early as March in some states. Though she expressed an openness to USA Today to “setting up a new party” that might supplant a Trump-centric G.O.P., such an effort would require the kind of money, personnel and legal maneuvering that would take months if not years to produce.
A Cheney presidential run is also likely to undermine her mission of thwarting Mr. Trump’s 2024 ambitions, said one close friend, because her candidacy could siphon some votes away from President Biden. According to the friend, Ms. Cheney’s comment to The Post that she would not have contemplated a third-party run until recently seemed more about her long allegiance to the G.O.P. and less about a new appetite for running as an independent.
Among Beltway conservatives, including lobbyists and military hawks, Ms. Cheney remains a popular figure and a woman of presidential timber. Lawmakers and staff members who served with Ms. Cheney on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol privately wondered whether the vice chairwoman was prioritizing her ambitions over a comprehensive investigation of the Capitol riot. To Mr. Trump’s allies, of course, the question answered itself.
If the current moment suggests anything beyond the desire to sell books, it is a reminder that Liz Cheney, like her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, has long understood the importance of political leverage in furthering her core beliefs. For now, she holds no office and has no place in either major party. But she has her voice.