The Washington Free Beacon has obtained exclusive excerpts from Schmidt's forthcoming memoir: What Dead Republicans Told Me When They Were Alive. In the book, from publisher HarperCollins—expected to hit bookshelves in fall of 2022—Schmidt takes us behind the scenes with never before published tales from the dark heart of the GOP. Here are some excerpts:
"In high school, I had taken a keen interest in foreign policy, writing letters to Ronald Reagan and members of his Cabinet about Cold War strategy and nuclear nonproliferation. Imagine my thrill, when the Gipper himself responded to one of my letters, urging him to tell the Soviets to tear down the Berlin Wall. I will never forget when he called me at home before his trip to Germany in 1987. Of course I took the call. It was the start of a wonderful relationship. Reagan would often call me late at night when he couldn't sleep. On one of those nights, he told me the truth. 'Steve,' he said. 'I have Alzheimer's. Sometimes I can't even remember my own name. But I'm too afraid to tell the American people.' I'm ashamed to say that I kept that secret for the next 35 years. But I can't keep it any longer. Ronald Reagan believed in America and he was a great man, but he was also a senile liar, who didn't know where he was half the time when he was our president."
"After graduating from the University of Delaware, I did everything I could to volunteer for the hottest ticket in the Republican field in the 1990s, Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania. I was only an intern, just learning the ropes when I volunteered in his Senate office. But I quickly gained more and more responsibility as so many of his senior staff pursued lucrative business deals with the Russian oligarchs who were taking over what used to be the Soviet Union. Arlen came to rely on my counsel, and I deeply respected the man. This is why I was so shocked when he pulled me aside one night at a campaign event in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to tell me how he helped cover up the assassination of John F. Kennedy. 'Steve, I don't know how to say this, but I caved to the pressure. Between the CIA and the mafia, I didn't know what to do, so I made up a theory about a magic bullet. The Warren Commission report isn't worth the paper it's written on.' When the senator said this to me as a young man, I hadn't yet learned that the highest form of patriotism was betraying the confidence of powerful friends. I am ashamed that I never came out with this information sooner. But I am learning to be a better man now."
"Orrin Hatch was always generous with me. When I started looking at properties in Utah, as my consulting businesses were taking off, he and I would get lunch at Sully's Diner in downtown Salt Lake City when he was back home. I got to know a great man in his final years. He loved America and the state of Utah. But Orrin Hatch was also a coward. He was scared of his voters. He told me privately that if he could do it all over again, he would devote his career to women's health and LGBTQIA2S+ rights. Hatch had come to love MSNBC in his sunset years. He once asked me to get him Ari Melber's autograph. I had to ask him whether he still believed that abortion should be outlawed. Orrin surprised me. He said he learned in his long life that there were some people who were so awful, they didn't deserve a chance at living. This was awkward. We both know he was talking about Meghan McCain, but I didn't want to push him too hard."
"In the summer of 2008 when our campaign began imploding, Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia. Meghan McCain had defied my order to cease all contact with her father and briefed him about the war. It was a disaster. Meghan McCain thought Vladimir Putin was cute. She used to talk about how she hoped daddy would introduce her to the Russian leader when he was president. So she told her father to go easy on Russia, and John McCain decided that it was more important to be a good dad than to be a good American. I wish I had quit the campaign right then and there. But I kept going because I wanted John McCain to be the man I hoped he was. So I patiently explained that we had a duty to the people of Georgia to denounce this war and reminded John of his friendship with Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president at the time. It took nearly two hours, but I talked him off the ledge. A few days later, he told me that he knew Meghan was a terror, but she was also his daughter and he couldn't tell her no. 'Steve, my boy, when this is over, I hope you can accumulate the kind of generational wealth you deserve,' he said. I will never forget those words. Even though John McCain was a fraud who helped pave the way for our current authoritarian nightmare, I was happy to call him a friend."