Political historian: The Republican Party is 'clearly in a battle for its soul'

The Powerhouse Roundtable discusses this week in politics.
6:51 | 11/12/17

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Transcript for Political historian: The Republican Party is 'clearly in a battle for its soul'
Let's dive in with "The roundtable." Matthew dowd. Alex Castellanos. ABC news congressional correspondent Mary Bruce and history yaen and ABC news contributor mark Updegrove, author of "The last Republicans." Inside the extraordinary relationship between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Matthew dowd, you say you believe the four women, what they're saying about Roy Moore. Moore says in the next few days, there will be revelations about the motivations and the content of the Washington post report. Well, the default position should be that the women who came forward should be believed because there is nothing to be gained. There is nothing for them to be gained. Other than getting beaten up in the press. Kellyanne needs to speech a yoga class in how to contort the positions in all of this. That is a campaign that chanted lock her up throughout the course of the the campaign. And were immediately quick to say Harvey Weinstein needs to be fired. All of the rest of those. So, I think he -- he -- I'm with Mitt Romney on this. I think he should step down from the ballot of this. It's, we're going to have an election. It will be a very competitive election. I think the standard should be, we believe the women in these cases. So mark, let me go to you on that. You have seen the reaction from the white house, Republicans. It's all very much if, if, if, would Democrats have reacted any differently? It's been in the past. Well, one of the things kaellyanne said was there wasn't much press coverage around president Clinton's indiscretions. There was quite a bit. Including the impeachment. Think you asked the wrigright question, what is it going to take for the Republican party to stand up and say, this man is not qualified. I didn't get that answer. That's a question that needs to be answered. And Mary, the Moore news has an impact for Republicans. It's a huge pressure on Republicans to pass tax reform and now. Buzz, the Moore controversy could put at risk a senate seat. A key seat. If the they lose this race, they would have a one-vote majority. Republicans now are stuck. They don't have great options here. If Moore loses, they lose the key seat. If Moore wins, talk about ak wa awkward. Unclear how his colleagues would work with him, interact with him. He would get a chilly reception if he wins. Some reports that senate Republicans are trying to find way to block his path to the senate. Is there a chance? A real effort? There are three options. Push the election to buy themselves more time. Back a write-in candidate like the incumbent, Luther strange. Or refuse to seat Moore if he does win. I have reached out to Mcconnell's office many times over the last few days. They're not commenting on what the leader is going to do going forward. It exposes the lack of power, shall we say, of the Republican establishment here. If they want to go forward and take on Roy Moore here. You have the establishment going once again up against the Steve Bannon wing. Day could back the democratic candidate, who from everybody's reporting is a guy of integrity. They could put party aside against a pedophile. You think there are chances? I hope people put country over party. Alex? Big Luther could resign. That could call for a new election. It's hard for the senate not to seat a democratic choice. They have to play the Powell decision rule that out. Sometimes in the chess of politics, you're called upon to make the pawn sacrifice to give up something in the short term to gain something in the longer term. If the Republicans want to keep the senate, they don't want judge Roy Moore to be the face of the party throughout the coming year in Washington. It would be devastating in swing states like Missouri. Yes, it would be nice in the media applied the same standard in the Bill Clinton days. Sometimes you wait for the jury. Sometimes the American people believe they are the jury. Judge Roy Moore doesn't need to go to the U.S. Senate for ethical and political reasons. The Alabama GOP is backing him. It's amazing to me that they're willing to back a guy accused of pedophilia, they're willing to call immoral two people in love of the same sex who want to get married. Talk about hypocrisy. Steve Bannon backed Roy Moore. Does that tarnish him? He can't fall off the floor. The inflated sense of Steve Bannon out here. He tried to compare to it the access Hollywood tape Donald Trump had in this. What he didn't point out was the reporting. I think Steve Bannon is another sign in the fall of the traditional Republican party. And mark, you have this new book out. This wonderful new book out about presidents bush 41 and 43. Neither of those men voted for Donald Trump. George W. Bush worried he might be the last Republican president. How would you characterize the state of the Republican party? It's -- the party is clearly in a battle for its soul. The establishment Republicans think one way. The rest of them think another way. See it in Alabama. What is going on there. Is it better to stick by a man accused of pedophilia than vote for a Democrat? Or get another candidate? This is a very ugly time in the history of the Republican party. What one of the things George W. Bush worried about seven years ago was the drift toward protectionism and isolation nichl. We're seeing that more today. Mary, talk about the struggle between Republican party right now. The fighting itself. And what they do with that. This obviously doesn't help. You have these varying factions within the party. How to you come together and do anything going forward? I know that the hope is if they could get legislative victories, get tax reform done they can show that they and the president can get some wins. Maybe, maybe, that can start to get things on track. That's a huge if.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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