“Top House GOP campaign strategists met with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Friday morning — an indication party leaders are attempting to avert the divisive primaries that Bannon is organizing against Senate Republicans,” Politico reports.
“Allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared open warfare on Wednesday against Stephen Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and leader of an insurrection aimed at defeating mainstream GOP candidates in next year’s midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.
“More than a year ahead of the 2018 congressional contests, a super PAC aligned with McConnell (R-KY) revealed plans to attack Bannon personally as it works to protect incumbents facing uphill primary fights. The effort reflects the growing concern of Republican lawmakers over the rise of anti-establishment forces and comes amid escalating frustration over President Trump’s conduct, which has prompted a handful of lawmakers to publicly criticize the president.”
Stephen Bannon said there “has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s,” while arguing that Bush “embarrassed himself” with a “high falutin” speech which criticized President Trump, CNN reports.
He added that Bush “has no earthly idea of whether he’s coming or going… just like it was when he was president.”
President Trump “called three Republican senators this week and expressed support for their 2018 re-election bids, aligning with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the senator’s intra-party feud with Steve Bannon,” Politico reports.
“Trump dialed GOP Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Roger Wicker of Mississippi … He promised to help the three senators against any insurgent challengers … and said he hoped they would be reelected. The calls are expected to eventually be followed by formal endorsements.”
Time: “Moore is not only a culture warrior. He is a populist Christian and a soldier in the larger Republican revolution that is rooted in frustration with Washington and prizes anti-establishment anger over all else. The same uprising that carried President Donald Trump into the White House looks poised to deliver an even more disruptive figure, one the party cannot control…. And the revolution is about to spread well beyond Dixie. Its field general, former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, says he is recruiting a slate of insurgent outsiders who will vow to topple the Republican ruling class.”
“Bannon’s strategy is to knit together a disparate coalition, from evangelical populists to small-government libertarians, to take on the proverbial swamp. Already Bannon is jetting around the U.S., meeting with major Republican donors in a bid to convince them to defect from McConnell’s team…. If Moore loses in December, it would shave the party’s cushion in the upper chamber to a single vote—which means there is an outside chance that Moore’s rise and Bannon’s crusade could cost the party control of the Senate, giving Democrats the numbers, and the subpoena power, to thwart every aspect of Trump’s agenda. And in the much more likely event that Moore wins, the Senate is about to become harder to govern—if that’s possible.”
Wall Street Journal: “Steve Bannon, the failed presidential adviser and alt-right sympathizer, has declared war on incumbent Republicans, particularly Sen. Mitch McConnell. From his perch at Breitbart, Mr. Bannon is vowing to defeat officeholders who back Mr. McConnell as majority leader or who won’t sign onto Mr. Bannon’s populist agenda. So what kind of challengers is Mr. Bannon marshaling for the midterms?”
“One is fresh out of prison. Another held a town hall to discuss ‘chemtrail’ theories… In open seats or races with Democratic incumbents, Mr. Bannon is backing consensus mainstream candidates.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told President Trump that Steve Bannon’s midterm insurgency was detrimental to tax reform and other key elements of the administration’s agenda, the Washington Examiner reports.
“McConnell emphasized that Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, was undermining the president’s agenda with plans to recruit and finance primary challenges against Republicans who are some of his most reliable supporters in the Senate.”
BuzzFeed: “Steve Bannon has sucked up gobs of political oxygen with his budding operation to take down establishment Republicans in next year’s elections. But his political army, and the secretive financiers backing it, so far are just loosely organized upstarts in an ecosystem dominated by well-established groups.”
“As the GOP appears to be on the verge of another civil war and reports of Bannon’s 2018 plans dominate headlines, the big question Republicans are still trying to figure out is: Beyond a photo op, what does Bannon’s support actually mean for Michael Grimm and several other candidates he is backing?”
Asked that question directly, a close Bannon ally responded: “It’s actually still TBD.”
Stephen Bannon taunted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and vowed to challenge any Senate Republican who doesn’t publicly condemn attacks on President Trump, Politico reports.
Said Bannon: “Yeah, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They’ve all left you. We’ve cut your oxygen off… Nobody can run and hide on this one. These folks are coming for you.”
“Referencing Shakespeare, Bannon compared McConnell to Julius Caesar, adding that lawmakers are wondering who will emerge as Brutus, the character who reluctantly joins in on the assassination of Caesar for the benefit of Rome.”
“Bannon also predicted Trump would win in a landslide in 2020, securing 400 electoral votes.”
Wall Street Journal: “The president also has urged voters to oust lawmakers who don’t support his tax overhaul plan this year; he phoned his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to offer encouragement after Mr. Bannon appeared on Fox News on Monday vowing to unseat sitting Republicans who don’t actively support the president’s agenda, said two people familiar with the call.”
McClatchy: “White House staffers are not usually the focus of campaign attacks. But in federal and state races, Democrats across the country have turned this ex-presidential aide — like George W. Bush’s Rove before him — into the avatar of everything wrong and extreme about the GOP, relishing the chance to tie Bannon to Republican candidates.”
“It’s a messaging tactic that has intensified in the last two weeks, as Bannon, the ex-White House chief strategist, ramps up his involvement on behalf of anti-establishment candidates in GOP primaries across the country — giving Democrats a new opportunity to highlight growing GOP disunity.”
This piece is only available to Political Wire members.
Join today for exclusive analysis, new features and no advertising.Sign in to your account or join today! Monthly – $5 per month or Annual – $50 per year
CNN: “Looking at the voting histories of Bannon’s targets, some things stand out for sitting Republican senators to consider: It doesn’t seem to matter much how conservative you were before Trump came to office if you are not fully pro-Trump today. And it doesn’t seem to matter how aligned your voting record is with Trump today if Bannon sees an opportunity to bring in someone who can be a louder, more consistent Trump advocate.”
“Every Republican senator up for re-election in 2018, with the exception of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, appears to be a target. Bannon also said he plans to back primary challengers in several other races where he thinks a crop of new Republican candidates can pick up seats for the GOP.”