In an interview with the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, a former teaching fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who mentored then-student Elise Stefanik and was so impressed by her that he urged her to run for office, admitted he now regrets his actions.
According to John Bridgeland, he was assigned the current Republican Party lawmaker as a student back in 2004 and said she was eager and pleased when she discovered he was a Republican, adding that, for his part, he found her "extremely bright” and “through-and-through public-service-oriented.”
Bridgeland admits, "I thought the world of her."
Now, since she swiftly ascended the House GOP leadership ladder to the number three spot, primarily due to her allegiance to twice-impeached Donald Trump, the former George W. Bush White House official has had a change of heart about his former student.
Speaking with Milbank, he explained how pleased he was when she ran for office with his encouragement, stating, "I was so incredibly happy and proud. I viewed her as the bright light of her generation of leaders. She was crossing the aisle. She was focused on problem-solving. She had the highest character.”
Then along came Trump and everything changed, with the WaPo's Milbank writing, "Ambitious Republican official abandons principle to advance in Trump’s GOP. But perhaps nobody’s fall from promise, and integrity, has been as spectacular as the 37-year-old Stefanik’s."
According to her old college mentor, "I was just so shocked she would go down such a dark path. No power, no position is worth the complete loss of your integrity. It was just completely alarming to me to watch this transformation. I got a lot of notes saying, ‘What happened to her?’”
Asked what he thinks happened, he suggested, "Quest for power. But power without principle is a pretty dark place to go. She wanted to climb the Republican ranks and she has, but … she’s climbed the ladder on the back of lies about the election that are undermining trust in elections, putting people’s lives at risk.”
According to Bridgeland, one of his greatest disappointments came when she joined Trump in pushing the "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.
“I was shattered. I was really heartbroken,” he remarked.
Speaking with the Post, he stated he held out hope that she might see the error of her ways, explaining, "People become totally ruined by their failure to stand up for the good and the true, but I do think she has the spark still and could awaken to it. It’s not too late.”
You can read the whole interview here.