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‘He absolutely betrayed me’: Steve Schmidt tells all about John McCain

This week on Playbook Deep Dive, we sat down over Zoom with Steve Schmidt, the architect of the late Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential run, to hear what amounts to an untold chapter of that exhaustively chronicled campaign.

It’s a story about regret and disillusionment that we are confident you will want to hear.

Previously, Schmidt has had a lot to say about his regrets playing a role in elevating Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate. Schmidt has long maintained that the roots of Trumpism, which he has spent the last seven years fighting, can be found in the movement that first gathered around Palin in 2008.

But Schmidt has always been more circumspect about McCain, his onetime hero and the man who actually picked Palin. Recently, though, he took to Substack to unfurl a surprising new chapter about the legendary senator and his failed 2008 campaign, which we discuss in depth on the show.

He also told us something he’s never revealed before: his disillusionment with McCain was so deep by the end of the 2008 campaign that he didn’t think McCain should be in the White House.

“The only conceivable conclusion that you could get to after watching his conduct in this campaign was that he’s completely unfit to be president,” Schmidt told us. “Truth is, I didn’t vote for him either.”

He left the presidential line on his 2008 ballot blank.

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