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In Elise Stefanik, the G.O.P. Installs a Trump Convert

  • May 14, 2021

“I will work with anyone, regardless of their party affiliation, to get it done,” Ms. Stefanik had said. “Republicans, Democrats, independents, even Green Party — if you have a good idea, I’m willing to work with you to get the job done.”

In an interview with a local radio station in 2015, she trumpeted her work with a group of moderate Republicans, who she said were “more of the governing caucus within the Republican Party,” and landed a thinly veiled jab at the ultraconservative members of the House Freedom Caucus without naming them, suggesting that they had not used “the most appropriate tenor” and had provoked “internal squabbling.”

“Elise Stefanik is a builder — no easy feat in an age when so much of politics is about tearing people down,” Mr. Ryan wrote in 2019 when she was named a rising star by Time magazine. “Elise has built a record as an authentic, respected voice for ideas and common sense.”

Even after Mr. Trump was elected, Ms. Stefanik kept her distance, voting against his emergency declaration to build a wall on the southern border and against his signature 2017 tax cuts bill. A member of the Intelligence Committee, she boasted about supporting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia and being “one of the first members” to call for transparency in regards to the report.

But Ms. Stefanik was already starting to move closer to Mr. Trump, having taken note of his 2016 romp in her district, a 14-point victory in a swath of upstate New York that had favored former President Barack Obama twice by large margins.

“I really paid attention to the voters and the people in my district,” she told Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser, in an interview last week. “And it was really stunning to see the amount of Trump signs popping up, the number of people attending Republican rallies, people that had never come to political rallies before turning out to vote.”

Just before the 2018 midterm elections, she invited Mr. Trump to her district to sign the annual defense bill at Fort Drum and shared the stage with him, though she pointedly declined to praise him during her brief remarks.

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