Stuart Stevens is a veteran Republican campaign operative from five presidential races. When he spoke to PBS's Judy Woodruff Wednesday, he lamented the GOP failed the moral test it was presented with Donald Trump.
"Well, I think there's been two strains in the party. Call it an Eisenhower strain going back to the '50s and a McCarthy strain," Stevens said, recalling when the GOP would talk about expanding their party and bringing in more African-American voters. "Now we don't even hear any talk anymore of a big tent. And we seem to have settled into a very comfortable white grievance identity."
He said that he wanted to write the book to accept responsibility for his role in seeing Trump come to power.
"If you go back and you read the Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips memo that was written for Nixon which really outlined the Southern Strategy, the acknowledgment Republicans can't get African Americans, therefore, the need is either to suppress them or to divert them from the Democratic Party, has been at the core of Republican electoral strategy," he continued.
Woodruff noted that he also wrote about the hypocrisy around "Republican family values," specifically citing Newt Gingrich and Jerry Falwell.
"I think that Donald Trump exposed these fault lines in the party, and made it impossible for a lot of us to deny," Stevens explained. "It — really, the party clearly doesn't believe in what it said it believed in. I think that, you know, you go back a few years ago, we would have said there's a core set of beliefs, personal responsibility, character counts, strong on Russia, fiscal sanity, free trade, pro-legal immigration. All of these were bedrock principles. And now it's not that the party has drifted away from these. The party is actively against each of these principles."
Whether it is race or the idea of so-called "family values," he said that it exposes some ugly truths about the Republican Party.
"I really have given up hoping that there's going to be some line that Donald Trump could cross," Stevens confessed. "Since I wrote this book, that has only been reaffirmed, be it race. You know, the same weekend my home state of Mississippi finally took down the state flag, which is basically the Confederate Battle Flag, Donald Trump was defending the Confederate Flag."
He cited Trump tweeting the video of the Florida man chanting "white power," and "protecting the white suburbs."
"And for the most part, the Republican Party is just silent or goes along with it. I think that that's incredibly damning," he told Woodruff. "And Trumpism is deeply embedded in the party. We — and I don't think there's any way that's going to be changed in — at least probably for a generation."
Stevens' new book, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, was released this week.
Watch the full interview in the video below: