The co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project has said some pretty mean things about the president over the last few months. Steve Schmidt, who was John McCain’s failed campaign manager, referred to Donald Trump as “a con man,” an “idiot,” an “imbecile,” a “rancid and wretched fool,” “lethally stupid,” “grotesque,” and a “racist disgrace.”
Then why did Schmidt beg Trump for a campaign job in 2016? More than that, why did he defend Trump in 2015 and 2016?
In an exclusive New York Post investigation, it’s revealed that Schmidt met with Trump at his Manhattan headquarters in Trump Tower in 2016 and asked the candidate to hire him to head up his campaign.
Trump thought he was a “total idiot” and turned him down.
In an interview with PRWeek two years later, the Jersey-born political strategist and PR executive nonchalantly recounted the meeting with Trump as a chance to “see what he was about” and likened it to being given the opportunity to see a UFO in Central Park.
But sources familiar with the meeting said Schmidt spent the entire encounter presenting what he thought the outsider candidate needed to do to win the election and was reportedly gunning for the campaign chief role, which Corey Lewandowski was fired from three months later.
One source said Schmidt, 49, thought the president was “the best candidate he had ever seen” and recounted how the campaign and the operative exchanged emails for months beforehand.
Schmidt went even further in his praise of Trump, lauding him for “expanding the base of the GOP.
In a November 2015 interview on “Morning Joe,” Schmidt, a long-time MSNBC contributor, asked candidate Trump about his position on Syria when Trump eagerly thanked Schmidt for being supportive of his upstart campaign.
“Steve, thank you for saying such nice things about me over the last number of months. You were there a long time before most so I appreciate it,” Trump said.
And in March 2016, while the establishment GOP was in the throes of a movement to stop Trump at all costs as the field narrowed to him and Ted Cruz, Schmidt gave a prescient analysis of how the reality star was expanding the base of the Republican Party and appealing to disaffected voters.
Schmidt turned on John McCain shortly after the election, giving an extensive interview for the book Game Change, which eventually became an HBO film. It was unflattering to McCain and portrayed his vice presidential pick, Sarah Palin, as an airhead. Trump thought that was incredibly disloyal.
So is all this Trump-hate the result of the president not giving Schmidt a job? People have held grudges for far less. In Schmidt’s case, it’s probably his desire to be accepted by the establishment, as well as seeing an opportunity to make a little money, that motivated him to turn 180 degrees against Trump.
But it’s still huge and satisfyingly ironic to see it all laid out in the Post.