Bill Kristol wonders if the stain of nominating Donald Trump will destroy the GOP as a national party.
The Weekly Standard editor opened up about his thoughts on the GOP’s post-Trump future on the latest episode of “The Jamie Weinstein Show” podcast.
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- When Bill Kristol met Hillary Clinton and talked to Donald Trump (4:35)
- What does Trump nomination tell us about Republican Party? (8:47)
- Did Trump win because of personality or issues? (11:58)
- Why didn’t Bill Kristol run as 3rd party NeverTrump candidate? (13:22)
- What happens to the GOP after the election — what should happen? (24:55)
- Kristol on foreign policy and what neoconservatism means (37:05)
- Could Hillary Clinton be a better president than conservatives expect? (43:13)
- Kristol advises young people how to succeed in Washington (44:31)
- Kristol on his influences (54:11)
“On the one hand I think about it and go, ‘you know what, if we can just get beyond this horrible election maybe the Republican Party will be OK and we’ll have a party of Ben Sasse and Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst and Cory Gardner and Elise Stefanik and Nikki Haley and Marco Rubio and, you know, Ted Cruz – and that’s not bad really, you know.'”
But Kristol says he sees a darker alternative where the “consequences” of Trump’s nomination are “very serious” for the GOP’s long-term health.
“The degree of corruption, of staining really, of the Republican Party and to some degree of conservatism by the continued accommodation of Trump, I worry about that,” he said. “It’s bad enough to support him, it’s bad enough to excuse his comments about Judge Curiel, it’s bad enough to excuse the personal behavior with women – I mean, it’s one disaster after another. I don’t know, how are people going to look at a party, how should people look at a party” that accommodated Trump?
Kristol said if you talked to him a year ago, he would have heralded House Speaker Paul Ryan as representative of a young, vibrant, forward-looking Republican Party — in stark contrast to a Democratic Party led by figures mainly in their 70s.
“But now I wonder, does Paul Ryan have a future if he is unwilling to repudiate Donald Trump?” Kristol asked aloud. “I mean and should he really, to be even harsher about it?”
Speaking to Trump’s recent suggestion that Hillary Clinton and “international banks” were secretly “plot[ting] the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers,” Kristol said Trump is beginning to sound like Father Coughlin, the anti-Semitic radio host of the 1930s.
“We’ve had Father Coughlin before,” he noted. “But Father Coughlin was not the nominee of one of the two major parties for president.”
“He is so ignorant about American history,” Kristol said when asked whether Trump understood he was using classic anti-Semitic imagery. “He probably doesn’t fully appreciate what he is saying.”
Kristol says that in a post-Trump environment, “people who bucked Trump should be rewarded,” but he is still debating how serious a stain supporting Trump will be to the party’s rising stars.
“Is this a generation defining issue or is it, ‘oh God, it was a mess, people made there own accommodations or didn’t,'” he said, conceding he is genuinely unsure.
Kristol says he “is on the whole on the big tent side” of the question of how the GOP comes together post-Trump, though he thinks the “most enthusiastic backers, cheerleaders and citers of Trumpism should not have prominent roles in the party.”
“Whatever there should or shouldn’t be, there is no one to punish them,” he said of those NeverTrumpers who are calling for a purge of the party post-Trump.
“It’s an understandable impulse, but slightly foolish,” Kristol went on. “I mean, it’s a huge country and party and no one gets to purge anyone.”
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