Steve Schmidt is a prominent GOP strategist; he was a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign and a former George W. Bush staffer. He ran Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reelection bid in California.
On Wednesday, he renounced his membership in the Republican Party — because of President Donald Trump’s policy of forced family separations at the US-Mexico border.
In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Schmidt denounced the Republican party for being “corrupt, indecent, and immoral” and “fully the party of Trump,” adding that he would be voting with the Democratic Party from now on — “the only party left in America that stands for what is right and decent and remains fidelitous to our Republic, objective truth, the rule of law and our Allies.”
The Trump administration has separated more than 2,300 children, from infants to teenagers, from their parents at the border in recent months, as part of what it calls a “zero tolerance” policy toward asylum seekers crossing the border illegally. The United Nations has called the practice, which has left thousands of kids in detention across the country (some in tent cities), illegal and inhumane. This is the latest in a series of hardline Trump administration immigration policies that have made it harder for migrants to claim refuge in the United States.
“It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families. It is immoral and must be repudiated,” Schmidt writes of the policy, citing “internment camps for children.”
But Trump has only gone further, blaming Democrats for establishing “weak” immigration laws. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress have tried to toe a narrow line between applauding Trump’s enforcement of immigration laws and rebuking the family separations — the direct result of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border.
Schmidt called out Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell for standing by Trump’s administration.
“Their legacies will be ones of well earned ignominy,” he writes of Ryan and McConnell. “Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values.”
Notably, Schmidt’s denouncement of the Republican Party was also a call to action — to vote out Republicans in the 2018 midterms. According to a Quinnipiac poll released this week, an overwhelming 66 percent of voters oppose family separations. And as Vox’s Li Zhou reported, the policy is unlikely to play well with voters, which could be particularly disastrous for Republicans in a midterm election where Democrats are energized to take back control of Congress.
Schmidt’s full comments are below: