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Maddow Blog | GOP’s Elise Stefanik haunted by her original position on Trump

In World
May 21, 2024

Plenty of Republicans have undergone unfortunate metamorphoses since Donald Trump took over the party — Sen. Lindsey Graham, I’m looking in your direction — but few have changed more than House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik.

In the not-too-distant past, the New York Republican encouraged voters to see her as one of Congress’ “most bipartisan” members, and in 2017, when nearly all GOP lawmakers rallied behind Trump’s proposed tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations, Stefanik voted against them.

That didn’t last. As regular readers know, Stefanik eventually concluded that to get ahead in Republican politics, she would need to put her principles aside and start embracing partisan nonsense. By 2020, the congresswoman had adopted an entirely new persona as a hard-liner and Trump loyalist, and after the 2020 race, Stefanik joined with radicals and urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn election results she didn’t like. Weeks later, she also voted against certifying election results.

The dramatic shift appears to have put her on the shortlist of Trump’s potential running mates — causing her to take a variety of unfortunate steps in the hopes of impressing Mar-a-Lago.

The problem for Stefanik, however, is that the recent past still exists, whether she wants to acknowledge it or not. Politico reported on the GOP leader’s appearance on Fox News over the weekend.

The host referenced this New York Times article from 2022, which highlighted Stefanik’s earlier Trump criticisms, before the congresswoman’s sharp turn to the right. The guest was not pleased.

“It’s a disgrace you would quote the New York Times with nameless and faceless people,” Stefanik said, adding that she dismisses “false smears.”

The trouble is, the Times didn’t rely on nameless and faceless people. On the contrary, the newspaper obtained a message in which Stefanik actually referred to the former president as a “whack job.”

It’s also true that in 2016, Stefanik publicly rejected Trump’s election conspiracy theories. This came on the heels of Stefanik also saying publicly that she believed Trump “has been insulting to women.”

These aren’t behind-the-scenes quotes from anonymous sources. Rather, this is just the GOP congresswoman’s record. We are, after all, talking about a New York Republican who was reluctant to even say Trump’s name out loud in 2016 for fear that voters might see her as a Trump ally.

If Stefanik wants to argue that she was wrong about the former president, she’s free to explain why she changed her mind. But the idea that the House Republican Conference chair’s record from eight years ago is somehow off-limits is ridiculous.

This article was originally published on MSNBC.com

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