Former Presidential Candidate Evan McMullin: Trump Reshaping GOP in His Image

“You can’t have a major American political party that only serves people of one ethnic or religious background.”

Courtesy of Evan McMullin

President Donald Trump ran on a promise to “drain the swamp” — of disrupting the political system in a major way.

And now, it certainly seems like he’s thrown out the political playbook as president, siding with Republicans on some things, siding with Democrats on other things.

The New York Times wrote over the weekend that Trump seems to be behaving more like an independent than a Republican president. They say his administration could be the biggest disruption to the two-party system since the Civil War. Is that true? If so, is that a good or a bad thing?

Former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin joins Detroit Today to discuss those questions.

McMullin is also the former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference and a former CIA operations officer who has long opposed Trump. We was the darling of the #NeverTrump movement in 2016, which was largely made up of disillusioned Republicans.

“His support base within the Republican Party is still very strong, his support is very high among voters,” says McMullin. “I think that’s more significant. So, I don’t necessarily agree that he has taken such an independent posture now. Because it matters less what his relationship is with members of Congress in terms of where the Republican Party is headed than it does where his alignment with the voters of the party is.”

“And right now, he is, I believe, reshaping the party,” he continues. “He is, I think, reshaping the party in his image.”

McMullin says he thinks a Republican Party shaped in Trump’s image is not sustainable in the long-term.

“Under Trump’s leadership, I expect the Republican Party to struggle even more than it has in the past to bring people of different backgrounds — different faiths, different ethnicities — into the party,” he says. “The reality is, you can’t have a major American political party that only serves people of one ethnic or religious background. I mean, we’re just too diverse.”

Host Stephen Henderson also speaks with former Michigan Republican Party Chair Saul Anuzis, who worked as an advisor to Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign in 2016.

“I actually believe we’re in the midst of a second American revolution,” says Anuzis. “The good news is, instead of the end of a barrel of a gun, it’s at the voting booth.”

He pushes back on McMullin’s statement that the Republican Party is only appealing to one ethnic or religious group under Trump.

“I think that the party is appealing to a broader group of people,” he says. “I think we’re a growing party, we have growing pains. But the reality is that I think a lot of new people came into this process and participated.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.