The political action committee of former Representative Liz Cheney began broadcasting an attack on Donald J. Trump’s fitness for office on Tuesday in the key state of New Hampshire, using her narration to accuse the former president of the greatest “dereliction of duty” in American presidential history.
It is unclear whether the advertisement by Ms. Cheney’s leadership PAC, The Great Task, is another hint that she may run for president or a stand-alone effort to soften Mr. Trump’s support in the state that will hold the first Republican primary in February. Ms. Cheney’s memoir, “Oath and Honor,” will publish in November, and she has said she will hold back any announcements until then.
But at this political moment, when Mr. Trump’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 have been reluctant to attack the front-runner, Ms. Cheney has fired an opening salvo, demanding that Republican voters rebuff the former president’s effort to return to power.
In the ad, which includes graphic and violent footage of his supporters at the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, Ms. Cheney says Mr. Trump refused to accept his re-election defeat. When all his efforts to cling to power failed, she says, “he mobilized a mob to come to Washington and march on the Capitol.”
“Then he watched on television while the mob attacked law enforcement, invaded the Capitol and hunted the vice president,” she said.
Ms. Cheney also warned:“Donald Trump is a risk America can never take again.”
Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, responded by calling Ms. Cheney “a stone-cold loser who is now trying to grift her way to relevance.”
The advertisement is running exclusively on CNN in New Hampshire, Ms. Cheney’s leadership PAC said in a statement. Its debut was timed to precede Mr. Trump’s appearance on the network Wednesday night in a town hall devised to reach beyond the conservative news audience that remains in Mr. Trump’s camp and address the broader electorate he would need to return to the presidency. That town hall will be broadcast from New Hampshire.
Mr. Trump teased the appearance on Tuesday with a jab at CNN. “They made me a deal I couldn’t refuse!!!” he wrote on his social media site. “Could be the beginning of a New & Vibrant CNN, with no more Fake News, or it could turn into a disaster for all, including me.”
Ms. Cheney hinted that she would return to politics after a crushing primary defeat in August by a pro-Trump Republican challenger, Harriet Hageman, who jettisoned her from the House seat in Wyoming she held for three terms. The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Ms. Cheney was once considered a potential speaker of the House. But her own party conference banished her from her senior Republican leadership post over her stalwart opposition to Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 attack. She went on to become one of two Republicans who served on the House committee that investigated the riot at the Capitol.
Her party and its core voters remain implacably opposed to her position on Mr. Trump, as evidenced by the former president’s commanding lead in party presidential polling. Those same polls have consistently put the party’s support for her at around 2 percent.
But Ms. Cheney has said that her mission for now will be to do everything she can to keep Mr. Trump out of the Oval Office.
“We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language,” she told reporters in 2021 as she was leaving Congress. “We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution.”