By: Andrew Prokop
Is the Republican Party falling apart? Steve Schmidt — a GOP consultant who worked on George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004 and ran John McCain’s campaign in 2008 — thinks it very well might be.
“There will be the alt-right party; then there will be a center-right conservative party,” he told me on Thursday. “I think what you’re gonna see is [Trump campaign CEO and Breitbart News chief] Steve Bannon monetizing 30 percent of the electorate into a UKIP-style movement and a billion-dollar media business.”
Schmidt was ahead of the curve in analyzing Donald Trump’s rise, arguing to me in August 2015 that, contrary to the beliefs of many experts, the GOP establishment had “no ability to stop” Trump because actual Republican voters no longer paid any mind to what their party elites thought.
So I got in touch with him for his thoughts on what’s happened since, and he unloaded on Trump (“manifestly unfit in every conceivable way”), Republican Party leadership (“political cowardice on a massive level”), and evangelical leaders standing by the nominee despite everything (“literally the modern-day Pharisees”). This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.