News & Politics

Steve Schmidt Broke With the GOP. Here’s What his Twitter Mentions Look Like Now.

(Spoiler alert: He doesn't care.)

Steve Schmidt on the Straight Talk Air campaign charter airplane in 2008. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Longtime Republican communications operative Steve Schmidt broke up with the GOP over Twitter Wednesday, slamming the party as “indecent and immoral” and full of “feckless cowards.” Within hours, the longtime strategist’s mentions were inundated with messages by alt-right bots, spam, and trolls. Even Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham took a shot at him.

Frankly, Schmidt doesn’t give a damn. “I’m completely unintimidated,” he says. “We have a real crisis of leadership these days. We’re not a cowardly people, until recent days.”

Brent Bozell, publisher of the conservative outlets NewsBusters and CNS News, joined the wave, lambasting Schmidt for his MSNBC contract. Schmidt says right-wingers like Ingraham and Bozell are “grifters akin to housing contractors ripping off little old ladies” who help perpetuate the “billion dollar anger industry” that he refuses to engage in or be enraged by.

Quoting American author Eric Hoffer, Schmidt took aim at the mouthy detractors on his feed: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket. These guys [GOP] are in the racket business. What are they defending? Baby interment camps?”

The former George W. Bush and John McCain adviser stresses that the overwhelming response online and with Beltway folk has been positive. He says several conservative colleagues called to offer their support and expressed their wish to speak out, too, but opted to offer private solidarity because they have “bills to pay and children to feed.” He was also greeted with open arms from some on the left: Scott Dworkin, co-founder of the Democratic Coalition, tweeted “Welcome, patriot”; Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, quickly echoed Dworkin’s praise:” Why don’t these folks think before they try to come for @SteveSchmidtSES? It never ends well for them. LOL.”

Schmidt appreciates the love from both sides of the political aisle and shows no sign of holding back his distaste for a party that’s coalesced around President Trump. In fact, he welcomes detractors to keep punching up.

“The entire electorate is scared to death of being trolled. It’s just disgraceful,” Schmidt said, adding with a laugh, “I wear it as a badge of honor. I don’t—and won’t—lose sleep.”

Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.