- Betsy DeVos on Saturday took aim at singular figures wielding vast power in politics.
- The former Education secretary spoke at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan.
- DeVos, a Michigan native, did not specifically mention Trump in her comments to the GOP faithful.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Former US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Saturday gave implicit criticism of former President Donald Trump’s hold over the GOP, expressing concern that “principles have been overtaken by personalities” in the party, according to The Detroit Free Press.
During an address at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan, DeVos said that the Republican movement was not “dependent on any one person,” but did not directly mention the former president.
“Politics now are so often about people, not the policies that impact lives directly,” she added, according to the newspaper.
The comments seemingly revealed unvarnished criticism from a top member of Trump’s former administration about the pitfalls of a political party directing energies into a singular figure.
While many Democrats and even some Republicans have lamented that the former president has become the nerve center of the party, especially as it related to the 2020 presidential election and perpetuating allegations of mass voter fraud that have never materialized, DeVos chose to address the issue in front of the party faithful.
In the past, the conference has served as a platform for future Republican presidential nominees, but Trump has effectively froze the potential field of candidates by not yet revealing his plans for 2024.
DeVos embraced the role of political warrior, however, lacing into Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is up for reelection in 2022 and has been denounced by conservatives for employing a wave of COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic.
The former secretary said that her tenure in Washington, DC, which lasted until January, was like a dental appointment – which most people dislike but realize is necessary – adding that she “didn’t have to live under the thumb of that woman from Michigan,” a nod to the way in which Trump referred to the governor.
While speaking at Mackinac, DeVos continued to advocate for school choice and public funding for parochial schools, according to The Free Press – blasting the state’s constitutional ban on public dollars going to private schools.
“Education is about students, not systems,” she said during her speech, arguing that education funding “should be tied to students, not systems and buildings.”
The former secretary, a Wolverine State native and former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman, was a highly controversial nominee to lead the Department of Education when Trump tapped her for the role due to her lack of experience with public education.
In February 2017, after a contentious confirmation process, DeVos was confirmed by the Senate in a 51-50 vote, with then-Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie, as GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined every Democrat in opposing the nomination.
It was the first time in US history that a vice president had to break a tie for a Cabinet nominee.
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