“Well, I would’ve said back in the Dark Ages, like four years ago, that 90 percent of the party would agree on some core principles. We could differ on issues here and there, but we all mostly believed in the importance of character, in personal responsibility, in free trade, in being tough on Russia, in fiscal sanity and legal immigration.
What gets me is not just that the party has drifted away from all of those things, because sometimes parties do that. It’s that we’re actively against all these things now. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like that in modern politics and I really don’t think we’ve seen anything like it in American politics. Just a complete moral and policy collapse of a party.”
“this stuff goes all the way back to the “Southern Strategy” in the Nixon White House. Race is the original sin of the Republican Party and, again, you can see how this stretches back to 1964. There was obviously a racist element to the party before. I mean, now we view William Buckley as this lost erudite voice, but we forget that Buckley started out as a stone-cold racist defending segregation. His second book was defending McCarthyism. He later recanted and wrote eloquent stuff about why he was wrong. But that element was always there.
I never thought the party was perfect. I freely admit that I was a campaign guy. I admit it, it’s just the truth. I never worked in government. I never really thought a lot about it. I was always in the business of electing candidates and thought of my role like a defense lawyer. In retrospect, I wish had thought about it more.”
“I would look at Newt Gingrich as part of the dark side, but I don’t think that was true of George Bush. I really don’t. I think that he felt very passionately about expanding the party. He felt very passionately about the party appealing more to Hispanics. He really cared about education.
If you go back and you read his acceptance speech in 2000, it reads like a document from a lost civilization. It really is about humility and service and helping others. And I don’t think that was phony. I think Bush is incapable of phoniness. I think what you see is what you get with him. And that’s I think what he believed, and I think he believed he could take the party in that direction.”
“I look back at 2016 and see that a lot of people were wrong about Trump. It’s very hard to find anybody who was more wrong than me. I didn’t think he’d win the primary, I didn’t think he’d win the general. And I realized in retrospect it’s because I didn’t want to believe that. I didn’t want to believe this party that I’ve worked in would nominate this guy who’s talking about having sex with his daughter in public. I didn’t think the party would do that. I was an idiot, but I didn’t. And Trump made all of this impossible to ignore.
So then there was the stage that a lot of people went through, and I went through for a while I guess, saying this isn’t really the Republican Party. But I don’t see how you can sustain that. It’s like trying to pretend that the Confederacy wasn’t about slavery. The party has abandoned any positive aspirations or values it might have had.”