The New York Times walked through the startling evolution of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who changed suddenly from a moderate millennial setting a path for a modern Republican Party to a true apologist for Donald Trump.
"But as her third term unfolded, according to current or former friends and advisers, it was becoming painfully clear that she was the future of a Republican Party that no longer existed," the Times explained. "The party was now firmly controlled by Donald J. Trump, a populist president she didn’t like or respect — a “whack job,” as she once described him in a message obtained by The New York Times. Fox hosts attacked her for not supporting Mr. Trump enough. Her friends criticized her for not opposing him more forcefully. You don’t understand, she would tell them. You don’t get how hard this is. Democrats were back in charge in the House. Mr. Ryan was gone, driven into early retirement. She told friends she was thinking of joining him."
That's when Stefanik remade herself into a Trump apologist. She became one of the Fox regulars, spouting conspiracy theories and spinning the base up over the manufactured outrage of the day. She's assailing Democrats using the tired old attacks like "socialist" and "communist." She bragged about being "Ultra-MAGA," but it wasn't until after a white man killed 10 people at a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. Two weeks later, Stefanik was joining the right-wing alliance.
Since then, Stefanik has been digging into a bigger MAGA hole by endorsing Carl Paladino, a Trump pal, in his bid for Congress.
"Within days of Ms. Stefanik’s endorsement, audio surfaced of Mr. Paladino praising Adolf Hitler as 'the kind of leader we need today,'" the Times recalled. Stefanik claimed it was all just taken out of context, though she never explained how.
But now Stefanik is caught with the rest of the GOP between Trump and the American voters.
"Ms. Stefanik’s reinvention has made her a case study in the collapse of the old Republican establishment and its willing absorption into the new, Trump-dominated one," wrote the Times. "But as Republicans prepare to take control of the House in the coming days, her climb to MAGA stardom may also be a cautionary tale. Mr. Trump’s obsession with litigating his own defeat has left him at once the party’s most potent force and its greatest liability, blamed by many Republicans for their failure to win the Senate in November and for a House majority that, some fear, may be too narrow to govern effectively."
The extensive profile ends with a commentary on the price of loyalty with even Fox hosts asking how she was so incredibly wrong about the "red tsunami" that never manifested. The report characterized her as almost in the image of Kevin McCarthy "unabashedly transactional in amassing chits of support for her own climb up the ladder. There was a possibility that she might run against McCarthy for Speaker, but held back this time around and will continue to bide her time.
The Times contemplates whether Stefanik might end up being a running mate for the Trump 2024 ticket.