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Bannon Attacks George W. Bush After Ex-President Decried 'Nativism,' 'Bigotry'

Then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in the Washington, D.C. area on February 23, 2017. Since leaving the president's staff Bannon is spearheading an effort to take on the GOP establishment.
Mike Theiler AFP/Getty Images
Then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in the Washington, D.C. area on February 23, 2017. Since leaving the president's staff Bannon is spearheading an effort to take on the GOP establishment.

Bannon Attacks George W. Bush After Ex-President Decried 'Nativism,' 'Bigotry'
Bannon Attacks George W. Bush After Ex-President Decried 'Nativism,' 'Bigotry' GUEST: Jason Roe, principal, Roe Strategic

California voters went for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election by a margin of more than 4 million votes. You would never know it in orange county this weekend at the state GOP convention California Republicans were enthusiastic about President Donald Trump and their own chances to win some state elections. Adding a radical edge to that goal former White House strategist Steve Bannon rallied convention goers with the militant call to arms. Then Adler attended the convention and brings us this report.Please rise and give a warm welcome to Mr. Steve Bannon.When Steve Bannon took the Civil War against the establishment he was met with cheers.It is finally getting the joke. They're going to have to step it up.The chairman slammed former President George W. Bush and compared California's new century state law to South Carolina. He gave a pep talk to Republicans. Inches 26% of registered voters --It looks like now it's impossible to do anything in California. The media you -- media is against you, it could not be farther from the truth. You have everything you need to get the victory. You have authentic people, big ideas and grassroots.His message resonated with many.We are in the war right now with the establishment.Julie is president of the club.Those of us that are taught -- caught in the middle are tired of being ignored and tired of being placed on the back burner while the elite decide what's going to be best for you rather than you deciding what's going to be best. So I'm ready for a fight.For other Republicans Steve Bannon inspires deep unease. Two hours east they just finished a plunge in his hometown. The small desert community of Yucca Valley. He used to be a regular at party conventions but he resigned earlier this year amid criticism for negotiating a cap and trade deal with Jerry Brown. Instead of fundraising this weekend --I'm going to go fishing tomorrow.It was planning to skip the convention but he says he was shocked and disappointed that they chose to invite them.You don't build a party by screaming and yelling. You tell people what your vision is an ideas are and you say and listen and try to reason with them and then you begin overtime building a level of trust and when you can build that, then you begin to get the victory.Some Republicans are fighting back. Mike Madrid flew out to the convention just to speak out against the banning.-- Steve Bannon.Then there there where the Republicans that don't feel -- I talked with more than a dozen people at the convention who feel that way but none would say so on the record. There's no Republicans challenging Feinstein's reelection bid next year. In Lisa California Republican Party still searching for a standardbearer.Joining me to talk about the convention is Jason Roe , principal, Roe Strategic. You attended the convention what were your takeaways?One thing that I found interesting is coming out of the Steve Bannon speech. They came out acknowledging that they agreed with a lot of the message that Steve Bannon had delivered at the convention. I found that pretty interesting. I think that story shows a lot of the handwringing going on in California over the direction forward and to see folks that typically would it subscribe to the tactics and strategy that President Donald Trump has employed and Steve can enhance -- Bannon has promoted.The headlines from his speech included him calling George W. Bush's presidency destructive. What our people were not GOP activists opposed to make of that?Well, I don't think it creates a good face for the party. When you look here in San Diego I think we have been successful of Republicans and in a heavily Democratic city because we've positions ourselves in a acceptable way. I don't think that rhetoric will create the same kind of an outcome. I will say that this has been brewing for a long time and you can disagree with tactics and the rhetoric of Steve Bannon, but I think it is manifestation of Republicans in Washington not having delivered for a long time in controlling government. I was not a fan of the Bush presidency. The only lesson he took from his father's presidency is don't raise taxes. He double the national debt from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. I think there was tremendous frustration that we controlled for some period of time and did not do anything to reduce the size of government. I think that is one of the uniting factors across the coalition is reducing the size of government and promoting more freedom. I don't think they felt that the Bush presidency delivered that.Many of these things have been simmering within the party for a long time especially in California considering GOP has been out of power for a length of time. I know that there are some state Republicans who have been seeing opportunities in recent Democratic initiatives like declaring as a century state, trying for a single pair health insurance -- payer health insurance and I'm wondering when people hear about the Republican embracing Trump and Steve Bannon, what does that do to the opportunity?I think that raises the Fairpoint. I don't think at the end of the day that any voter is going to change their opinion on who they vote for a son who spoke at the convention. I think at the end of the day they're going to look at what the policies of Democrats and Republicans offer them. I do think that for some time we see dramatic overreach in Sacramento. When you take that and magnify it, most of the electoral backlashes have been a response to overreaches. So I think there's a window of opportunity between the gas tax and the sanctuary -- these are not things that are going to help improve people's lives. There's certainly going to drive up the cost of government.Mayor Kevin Faulkner who you have done political consulting for laid out his plan for the state GOP this summer. He said California Republicans needed to regain their role as the party of freedom and embrace inclusion and even fight for things like climate change mitigation. How much of that message did you see in the convention this weekend?I saw very little of that. I think it is a constructive blueprint. I think when you look at the issues that have heard the Republican Party in this day, the tended to be social issues, immigration, abortion, guns, gay marriage. Most of these issues are largely settled. I think it freezes up Republicans to focus on the bread and butter issues. That's like economic issues whether it taxes or government spending our freedom. When you look at what Mayor Faulkner have -- has talked about I think his first suggestion is we have to acknowledge that the environment is changing. We can agree to disagree on what the prescriptions are to address that, but I think for a long time you saw conservatives that seem to be denying that it even occurred and it's difficult to be part of a conversation on what the conservative solution is to climate change if you start from the premise that it is not happening. I think that's a big part of what Mayor Faulkner was laying out. I think we have to be a constructive part of the conversation of what our ideas out -- or. -- are.Did you leave the convention with a sense of optimism?I think that we have got to be strategically smarter about the message that we are delivering. Problem that we've had for a long time in the state is that the state is so big and has so many different media markets. It's hard to have a unified conservative message that lays out what they want to do for the state of California. It is basically fractured between San Diego, orange county, Riverside, San Bernardino. I think it's been very hard to help voters see what our vision is. I think that's been whatever struggles. It's hard for them to build up a constituency or platform in order to become a leader for the party. We almost have to rely on self funders to have the resources to compete at the state level. I think that's been a huge challenge for us for 10 or 15 years now. I do think that when we get to the point where we have a message that people are listening to that we would be smart about what that messages. I don't think that we been doing that for the last three years.I've been speaking with Jason Roe, principal, Roe Strategic. Thank you.Thank you for having me.

Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon unleashed a torrent of insults against former President George W. Bush in California Friday night.

"President Bush embarrassed himself," Bannon said, in a 40-minute address at an annual California Republican Party convention in Anaheim, Calif. "He has no earthly idea whether he is coming or going just like it was when he was president of the United States," Bannon said to a smattering of applause and laughter.


Bannon also called Bush the "most destructive" president in American history for allowing China's rise as an economic force.

"It's clear he didn't understand anything he was talking about," Bannon continued, referring to a speech delivered by Bush just a day earlier, in which the 43rd president never alluded to President Trump by name. Bush did, however, denounce many of the policies and political tactics frequently employed by Trump and which have become synonymous with his administration — many of which political observers also associate with Bannon.

"We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America," Bush, who advocated for comprehensive immigration legislation late in his presidency, said at the Bush Institute's Spirit of Liberty event in New York City.

"We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism," he added.

Bush's two-term presidency embraced the tenets of free trade. Throughout his administration, he warned against global protectionism, which he believed would stunt the nation's economic growth.


Returning to themes that Bush said are driving Americans apart, the former president said, "Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication."

(Bush wasn't the only former president this week seeming to respond to the particular style of politics that has been championed by both Trump and Bannon. "If you have to win a campaign by dividing people," former President Barack Obama said at a Virginia political rally Thursday night, "you're not going to be able to govern them. You won't be able to unite them later if that's how you start." Like Bush, Obama did not mention either Trump or Bannon by name.)

Bannon's attack on the former president a day after Bush's speech is the latest salvo in the former Trump aide's self-described "war" on establishment Republicanism.

"Right now it's a season of war on the GOP establishment," Bannon declared last week at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.

Since returning to his position as executive chairman of Breitbart, Bannon has launched a comprehensive effort to support anti-establishment GOP candidates who will be loyal to President Trump's agenda — even in hotly contested 2018 races for Senate seats the GOP needs to hold in order to maintain and grow its majority in Congress' upper chamber.

Presaging his efforts for the midterm cycle, Bannon recently backed former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Judge Roy Moore in a GOP primary against Sen. Luther Strange, an incumbent who had been appointed by scandal-scarred governor and who was backed by both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Moore won the primary but is now in a tighter than expected general election race in traditionally deep-red Alabama.

GOP Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Dean Heller of Nevada, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Deb Fischer of Nebraska and John Barrasso Wyoming are already in Bannon's sights for 2018.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who Bannon had also threatened with a primary challenger, recently announced he will not seek re-election in 2018. Bannon said last week, though, that Corker, who has been an increasing critic of President Trump, is now a litmus test for other establishment Republicans. "Condemn Sen. Corker," Bannon said.

The Senate's top Republican is another litmus test for Bannon as he plots for 2018. "All of you folks that are so concerned that you're going to get primaried and defeated — there's time for a mea culpa.... say 'I'm not going to vote for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,' " he also said in a speech last week.

In California, where Democrats hold overwhelming political power in the state government and hold both of the state's U.S. Senate seats, Bannon urged conservatives to unite against Democrats in order to retain control of Republican House seats likely to be vulnerable in 2018 — and prevent Democrats from becoming the majority in the House with the new session of Congress in 2019.

His call to action would have had a special resonance for the GOP party officials and activists gathered in Anaheim because there are five House Republicans in the Southern California area being targeted by Democrats in 2018.

"It's time for California to start having some victories," he said. And, he suggested Democrats "are going to drag us so far to the left that we're going to hold those districts and Nancy Pelosi is not going to get her opportunity to impeach the president of the United States."

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