NEW YORK — Political commentator Steve Schmidt says he'll take some inspiration from former NFL players who become television analysts when he starts appearing on Showtime's "The Circus."
The political show is returning Sunday for a series of episodes focused on the midterm elections. Schmidt, a former political strategist who helped run John McCain's 2008 campaign for president and worked on GOP congressional campaigns, will join regular hosts John Heilemann, Alex Wagner and Mark McKinnon the next week.
He appreciates former NFL players who turn broadcasters because they're straightforward in a way that many partisan commentators aren't.
"Troy Aikman is not going to sit there and tell you the Cowboys are having a great day when they're losing 42-6," he said.
He hopes to use his expertise for honest assessments of why campaigns are being run like they are and whether Republicans can survive what is expected to be a rough election night.
Schmidt has worked as an MSNBC commentator and been sharply critical of President Donald Trump, even recently changing his voter registration from Republican to independent. But he said he makes it a point not to criticize Trump voters.
"Everyone wants to be seen, everyone wants to be heard," he said. "And you've got big parts of the country that doesn't think it has been seen or heard from for a very long time, through multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic. One thing 'The Circus' does well is to show people and allow them to be heard."
Schmidt doesn't know if he'll be on the show beyond the upcoming run of episodes, which conclude Nov. 4. He also doesn't know which campaign he'll be covering first.
"They're very dynamic, very nimble," he said. "I'll wake up in Los Angeles on the 17th and be directed from there. You have no idea where the show is going to take you."