The executive chairman of Breitbart News told a packed ballroom annual Value Voters Summit Saturday that nationalist-populist voters learned the most important lesson from President Barack Obama.
“You might not like Barack Obama’s policies,” said Stephen K. Bannon, who took a year-long leave of absence from Breitbart to first lead President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign and then serve as Trump’s most senior advisor.
Obama was authentic and his supporters brought that authenticity to the voters door-to-door,” he said.
“You might not like him as a president,” Bannon said.
“Let me tell you as a politician, he knew exactly what he was doing,” he said.
The former Navy surface warfare officer said he remembered back to the 2008 Republican National Convention, when his friend former New York City mayor Rudolph W.L. Giuliani mocked Obama.
“He had that great line: ‘What’s a community organizer?’ I’ll tell you what it is—somebody who can kick your ass, twice.”
Bannon said the grassroots of the Tea Party, evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics learned that lesson as witnessed with the election of Trump and the victory of former judge Roy Moore.
Moore won his Sept. 26 runoff against Sen. Luther J. Strange III to secure the GOP nomination for the Dec. 12 special election to succeed Jefferson B. “Jeff” Sessions, who resigned from the Senate to become Trump’s attorney general.
Bannon said the president got bad advice and bad information before he made the decision to endorse Moore over Strange.
“Some folks were telling him things that just weren’t so,” he said.
“I kind of told him what was going to happen in Alabama,” said the former White House Chief Strategist. “I told him I was going to stand with the men and women who got him into office.”
Bannon said Moore’s win in the Alabama runoff was a rehearsal of concept for his strategy going into the 2018 midterm elections.
“We proved in Alabama that money doesn’t matter anymore,” he said.
“A good man with good ideas and good people to back him can beat any amount of money,” he said.
On the other hand, the Republican establishment is convinced that the populist movement can be fooled and manipulated.
“They think the good men and women, the good sons and daughters of Alabama–just like they think working class and middle-class folks across the country—are a bunch of morons, a bunch of idiots, a bunch of rubes.”
One example of this belief is the tens of millions of dollars the establishment, led by Senate Majority Leader A. Mitchell “Mitch” McConnell (R.-Ky.) on 30-second TV ads in the attempt to convince people to support Strange.
The most effective tool in an election is authenticity, he said.
Motivated campaign workers need to knock on doors and ring doorbells, and then interact with the voters based on their lived-experiences with passion explaining why the voter needs to support the nationalist-populist candidate, he said.
A source familiar with Bannon’s thinking about the 2018 midterm elections told Big League Politics that the one-time investment banker believes that he can put the Republican establishment on the defensive by forcing them to defend far more seats through the primaries than the eight seats that are up in the general election.
Bannon is looking for Senate candidates with compelling personal stories that will become part of the national conversation and contribute to his goal of nationalizing the 2018 midterms, the source said.
These candidates include the founder of the private security company Blackwater and Navy SEAL veteran Erik D. Prince, who is considering a GOP primary run against Wyoming’s Sen. John A. Barrasso III, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Barrasso is No. 4 in the GOP’s Senate hierarchy, the source said.
Another target is Maine’s Sen. Angus S. King Jr., the former governor of the state, who ran as an independent, but caucuses with Senate Democrats, the source said. Bannon expects Maine Gov. Paul M. LaPage to challenge King, but thinks the governor’s wife Ann LePage would be a great candidate.
Bannon thinks voters would be drawn to the story of governor’s wife, in 2016 got a job at McSeagull’s, the Boothbath, Maine restaurant, to help pay off a car loan. “He would take either one of them, but he prefers Ann.”
At the end of his 30-minutes of remarks, Bannon seems like he did not want to leave such a warm and embracing audience. After one burst of applause, he said: “You sound like my colleagues at the White House—not.”
Then, returning to politics, he said: “The president needs our support more than ever.”
Moore’s victory in the runoff was not a rebuke to the president, rather it was a strong message to the president that people still support the agenda he ran on in 2016, he said.
After Moore’s win, Trump has issued a 70-point program on immigration that includes no pathway to citizenship and he shut down President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for the so-called DREAMers, he said. The president has also decertified the Iran Deal, suspended the unappropriated Obamacare subsidies to private insurance companies, crippled the birth control mandate, withdrawn the U.S. from UNESCO and refocused tax reform onto the middle class.
“These are not random events, folks,” Bannon said.
“That is victory begets victory.”