Former White House chief political strategist Steve Bannon has a bleak message for Republicans looking to retain control of the House in the 2018 midterms: If you don’t stop the blue wave, your heads won’t be the only ones that roll — President Donald Trump’s will, too.
Last week, Bannon announced the launch of his initiative, Citizens of the American Republic, to help the GOP keep its House majority by tying a Democratic victory in November to impeachment.
This is not a typical midterm year, Bannon warned in an interview with The Associated Press over the weekend. If the midterms were held today instead of in November, he believes Republicans would lose 35 to 40 seats.
“You can’t look at this as a midterm and you can’t run it out of the traditional Republican playbook,” Bannon said. “If you do that, you’re going to get smoked.”
Republicans’ strategy to avoid a bludgeoning this fall should be to lean into getting as many solid Trump supporters as possible out to the polls to vote for Republicans who wouldn’t impeach him, Bannon indicated. The way he sees it, most people have already taken up their respective sides, so focusing campaign messaging on voters who are on the fence is a waste of resources.
“This is not about persuasion. It’s too late to persuade anybody,” Bannon said. “We’re 90 days away from this election. This is all about turnout and what I call base-plus.”
Bannon’s Citizens of the American Republic will be funded by a group of private donors, though he declined to say who exactly they were.
It’s unclear how much sway he has over Republican voters.
But despite a public lashing by Trump, Bannon, who briefly returned to his position leading the far-right news outlet Breitbart News, has publicly stuck by Trump.
The unpopular tariffs against China, he argues, are essential to Trump’s nationalistic trade message. He has applauded the president for staying focused on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In fact, if Trump wants to score some political points, Bannon said, he should shut down the government for the third time in his presidency in order to secure more border wall funding.
That would help “galvanize the populist right,” Bannon said.
To regain a House majority, Democrats need to win back 24 seats.
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