Conservatives clash over GOP ‘cult’ around Trump: ‘How much racism are you willing to accept?’
Charlie Sykes and Eric Bolling (MSNBC)

Conservative broadcaster Charlie Sykes hammered former Fox News host Eric Bolling for joining the "cult of personality" around President Donald Trump.

The pair returned Tuesday to MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to resume the previous day's fiery debate, and Sykes challenged Bolling over his claim that Trump's election win justified any actions he took as president.

"The question is, what is the price?" Sykes said. "In this bargain you get a lot of what you like, but it turns out the price is more than you expect."

Sykes blamed the president and his apologists for warping the conservative movement.

"It is making it dumber, crueler, more dishonest, more disconnected with reality, more extreme," Sykes said. "I think they're going to pay a price. The Republican Party and the conservative movement need to be more than a cult of personality and a slogan on a hat."

"I think this is the balancing act," he added. "How much are you willing to give up? How many of your principles, how many lies are you willing to accept, how many outrages are you willing to enable and rationalize? What sort of behavior are conservatives willing to accept?"

Host Joe Scarborough challenged Bolling to denounce Trump's equivocation on David Duke and the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, and the conservative TV host stopped short.

"He's not a fluffy, soft president," Bolling agreed. "Joe, you and I both know Donald Trump personally -- I will tell you unequivocally -- the man is not racist. The man is not racist, he is not a racist. We can paint him with a racist brush if we don't like his policy, but that's not who the man is. When you dig deep into the guy, when you dig into his heart, we know he is not racist."

Sykes repeated his challenge to Bolling.

"What are you willing to accept?" Sykes said. "You know, how much of the racism, how much of the xenophobia, how much of the anti-Muslim bias, how much of the treatment of women. I remember when conservatives said character matters. I remember when conservatives would have united behind, you know, taking a hard line on the Russian attack. If Barack Obama had behaved the way Donald Trump behaved last week, Eric Bolling's head would have exploded."

Bolling interrupted and argued that Obama had assured Russian president Vladimir Putin he would go softer on him if he won a second term, and Sykes called him out.

"Can you let me finish once, Eric?" Sykes said. "We criticized that. It's the reversal of the position. It's the reversal of positions on free trade, on American leadership, on character, on corruption, because this cult of personality. Look, I understand that Donald Trump won, I understand you are getting a lot of what you want, but the transformation of the conservative movement, what he is doing to american political culture. -- we're paying for this."

Bolling happily glugged the metaphorical Kool-Aid.

"Charlie, you're right," Bolling said. "There's a new conservative movement in town, and guess what? Get used to it. Elections have consequences and Trump is the new conservative movement."

Sykes agreed, and again challenged Republicans to decide for themselves how much they were willing to tolerate.

"There's no question about it, the Republican Party is Donald Trump's party," Sykes said. "There's no request about it. Those of us who are conservative Trump critics are very much in the wilderness, no question about it. This is a party that has moved from being, you know, the party of ideas to being the party of 'Fox & Friends.'"