Over in one part of Alabama on Monday night, Vice President Mike Pence was rallying the crowds to do the bidding of President Trump and vote on Tuesday for the establishment pick, Luther Strange.
Over in Fairhope, Alabama – in a barn, no less – Steve Bannon was whipping up the righteous anger at everything Strange, his benefactor, Mitch McConnell, and the so-called establishment GOP stand for, in support of Judge Roy Moore.
For 20 minutes, Bannon raged.
“For Mitch McConnell and Ward Baker and Karl Rove and Steven Law — all the instruments that tried to destroy Judge Moore and his family — your day of reckoning is coming,” Bannon said, referring to the Republican Senate leader and a trio of prominent GOP strategists backing incumbent Sen. Luther Strange. “But more important, for the donors who put up the [campaign] money and the corporatists that put up the money, your day of reckoning is coming, too.”
Moore may not need a lot of help, ahead of today’s vote. He’s led Strange in the polls, consistently. Still, Bannon has been a forceful advocate, even directing writers at Breitbart to push the anti-Strange narrative.
For his part, Luther Strange has hoped that having President Trump and Vice President Pence make appearances to rally the Trump base would be enough to get him over the finish line.
The problem there is that most of Trump’s base seem to like Moore, better. That, and having Strange say his goal is to stand up to Mitch McConnell and the establishment, when the establishment picked him is a level of dissonance Alabama’s voters don’t have the energy to pick through.
Bannon painted a vivid picture of “us versus them” last night.
Bannon said mainstream Republicans behind Strange’s campaign regard Alabama voters as “a pack of morons. They think you’re nothing but rubes. They have no interest at all in what you have to say, what you have to think or what you want to do. And tomorrow, you’re gonna get an opportunity to tell them what you think of the elites who run this country!”
“Mitch McConnell and his permanent political class is the most corrupt, incompetent group of individuals in this country!” Bannon said to loud applause.
Also on hand for last night’s pro-Moore rally were Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and Brexit leader, Nigel Farage (for some reason).
Moore was considered the underdog in this race, in the beginning. Strange had the big money donors and had already been sitting as place holder, appointed by former Governor Bentley to the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. He seemed like the logical choice, but when he didn’t just walk away with the nomination during the initial primary, it became clear that he was going to have to fight, if he wanted to remain in that Senate seat on a more secure basis.
Bannon has rallied the troops, however.
Bannon met with dozens of influential right-of-center groups, including the Conservative Action Project, the Council for National Policy, Judicial Watch and Groundswell, a group overseen by Ginni Thomas, the spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Bannon also met with key movement leaders from the Capitol Hill townhouse that serves as Breitbart’s nerve center.
To Bannon, ousting the establishment favorites is key to breaking the “globalist” hold on our government. Oddly enough, he doesn’t go after Democrats with nearly the same fervor. With what we know, you’d think he’d be at least equally zeroed in on them, but I guess Republicans are easier. The fact that Trump has now started edging back to the left, embracing the policies of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi probably has nothing to do with it.
Speaking of Trump, just to show he hasn’t totally out of the sect, Bannon clarified that his support of Moore, in opposition to who Trump had chosen, was not an attack on Dear Leader.
Perhaps sensitive to the perception that he was rebuking the president, the former White House chief strategist insisted that it was Moore, not Strange, would do the most to back the Trump agenda. “We did not come here to defy Donald Trump, we came here to praise and honor him,” he said.
As The Guardian pointed out in video footage of Bannon’s speech – shades of Mark Antony’s funeral oration for Julius Caesar.
I guess we’ll know by this evening who holds the real influence, at least in Alabama – Trump, or Bannon’s alt-right hammering.