Breitbart News Executive Chairman and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon offered his post-mortem of Virginia Republican Ed Gillespie’s failed gubernatorial campaign Wednesday night, telling a Michigan audience that attempts to “fake” Trump’s “America First” agenda will fail.
“One of the things that the Gillespie campaign shows is you can’t fake the Trump agenda,” Bannon said at a GOP Unity Dinner in Macomb County. “You have to go all in, and this agenda is a winning agenda. Do not believe the opposition party, do not believe the fake news and fake media, this agenda is what America needs … to rebuild its future, and it’s a winning ticket. ”
Gillespie, a former RNC chairman and Bush White House adviser, was soundly beaten by Democratic candidate Ralph Northam on Tuesday. After nose-diving in the polls, Gillespie embraced the Trump agenda late, emphasizing banning sanctuary cities, and pledging to protect Virginia’s historical figures and monuments.
However, conservatives have accused him of running an “inauthentic” campaign and embracing Trump’s economic nationalist agenda too late for it to save his campaign. Gillespie was also blamed for reportedly rejecting Bannon’s help, despite Bannon’s track record of getting candidates such as President Trump elected to office.
In his remarks, Bannon said it reflects well on Trump’s supporters that they backed Gillespie and “put their shoulder to the wheel and to try to push Virginia, a blue state, over the goal line.”
From the defeat in Virginia, Bannon drew lessons for the 2018 midterms, including that it was necessary for economic nationalists to get tough on key members of the establishment such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.)
“They only understand one thing, you cannot be nice to these guys, you have to drop the hammer, that’s what he understands,” Bannon said.
He argued that one of the most important aspects of winning candidates was to find authenticity, found in President Trump and also Alabama Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore — who edged out Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in September.
“In today’s political landscape authenticity of [a] candidate is everything. You want a Donald J. Trump, you want a Judge Moore, you want a Congressman [Paul] Mitchell, right? You don’t need groomed men and women groomed from seven years old with a briefcase and a blazer and khaki pants,” he said.
Bannon ended his speech on a positive note and urged that, while there would be some “dark days” like in Virginia, they should stick with the “America First” agenda.
“Every day is gonna be a struggle, and we’re gonna have some dark days in front of us, we’re gonna have some defeats in front of us, but if we keep at this, if we keep at the program that President Trump laid out for us, and if we help him in Washington, D.C. and throughout the states and in places like Macomb County, they’re gonna be better days and bad days in the sunlit uplands are gonna be ahead,” he said.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.