Former White House counsel Stephen Bannon addressed the annual California Republican Party convention on Friday, telling conferees in Anaheim: "President Bush embarrassed himself." Bannon said in a 40-minute address that former President George W. Bush "...has no earthly idea whether he is coming or going just like it was when he was president of the United States." Bannon was responding to remarks that Bush made that week that condemned extreme nationalism that were widely interpreted to be directed at President Donald Trump.
Bannon called Bush the "most destructive" president in American history for allowing China to rise as a global economic force. "It's clear he didn't understand anything he was talking about," Bannon continued, referring to Bush's speech on Thursday. Bush denounced policies and political tactics frequently employed by Trump, and Bannon. "We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America," said Bush at the Bush Institute's Spirit of Liberty event in New York City. Bush pushed for comprehensive immigration reform during his presidency.
Bannon had already declared war on establishment Republicans. At the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, ormer 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 said on October 14 at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
Ever since he left the White House, Bannon has supported GOP candidates who will be loyal to President Trump's agenda. He backed former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Judge Roy Moore in a GOP primary against incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, who had been backed by both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Moore won the primary and is now facing a general election race in traditionally deep-red Alabama. Republican 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 next year. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) recently announced he will not seek re-election in 2018. Bannon said last week that Corker, who has been increasingly critical of President Trump, is now a test case for other etablishment Republicans. "Condemn Sen. Corker," Bannon said. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is another one of Bannon's targets. "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,' " Bannon said in a speech earlier this month.
Bannon urged conservatives in California, where the governor and the two senators are Democrats, to show unity before Democrats so as to hold onto Republican seats in the House of Representatives that will be vulnerable in 2018, and to prevent Democrats from regaining a majority in Washington. "It's time for California to start having some victories," he said, while suggesting that 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."