(Orange County, CA) Breitbart News Executive Chairman and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon delivered a fiery keynote address to about 500 people at the opening dinner of the California Republican Party’s Fall Convention Friday night, praising President Trump and declaring war on the GOP establishment.
Stepping out from behind the podium, comfortably walking about the stage, Bannon gave a forty-minute-long speech covering a myriad of issues that began with effusive praise of President Trump, the importance of winning and how victories beget victories, and about the great challenge ahead in taking on the, “corporatists, lobbyists, consultants, and the politicians they control.”
In referring to his work with President Trump, Bannon said early in his remarks, “I’ve had the honor of being the CEO of his campaign, the chief strategist in the white house — and now I’m proud to say his wingman outside.”
“Donald Trump has been an existential threat to the system,” Bannon declared to overwhelming applause from the audience.
Bannon went on to talk about the importance of the recent victory of Judge Roy Moore in the Republican U.S. Senate runoff election in Alabama.
“We had to prove something,” Bannon said. “That the donor class and Mitch McConnell’s money doesn’t mean anything. They spent $32 million dollars against $2 million from Judge Roy Moore. Judge Moore won 45-55. It was the politics of personal destruction. It was against Judge Moore and his wife… And you know what they said his big crime was… he put the ten commandments in the city hall… The underpinnings of Judeo-Christian thought.”
Bannon talked quite a bit about the pieces of the winning coalition that won the Presidency for Trump and the Alabama GOP Senate nomination for Roy Moore – populists, nationalists, and Christians.
Bannon reminded the convention attendees that it is time to win in Washington, D.C. He said that if we are going to do that we need unity on the right – and if Republicans can’t get together on Capitol Hill and actually get things done, “We’ll be run out of office, and deserve it.”
He said his vision for a united conservative movement is going to be executed by a “grassroots army.”
“It’s about one thing – are you a citizen of the United States of America?” Bannon asked the audience. “Economic nationalism is not what’s going to drive us apart, it’s what’s going to bring us together. GDP isn’t everything. We are not an economy. We are a country. We have a social fabric. I’m a free market capitalist. That’s the underpinnings of our society. Economic nationalism means ensuring that jobs that we have allowed to go to Asia come back to the United States.”
Bannon said that American citizens should have a preference for jobs and economic opportunity. And that people should have to compete against foreign labor and illegal alien labor. He also decried Europe as being a protectorate of the United States, making no effort to protect themselves. He said that this is changing, “It’s not that we are being isolationists. We have to start thinking like adults… We have to stop worrying about these global institutions… The rules-based international order has worked for everybody except the united states of America.”
“President Bush embarrassed himself,” Bannon said as he offered a stinging critique of President George W. Bush after the former President’s recent public criticisms of President Trump. “It is clear he didn’t understand anything he was talking about. He had no idea whether he was coming or going. Just like when he was President of the United States. There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s.”
Bannon’s strong criticism of Bush was met with a lot of applause in the GOP audience – which drew a surprised look from those in the room who clearly were not pleased someone speaking ill of the former Republican President.
It wasn’t just President Bush who was singled out by Bannon for his recent remarks, Bannon also was critical of U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ). While careful to praise McCain for his service to the country, he said that McCain’s speech this week was “nothing but happy talk.”
Former President Bush and Senator McCain were both booed by the Republican audience.
At one point, Bannon also heckled Karl Rove. He said that he’d like to insult the establishment Republican consultant for his recent less-than-kind op-ed attacking the Breitbart Executive Chairman in the Wall Street Journal, but he “doesn’t like punching down.”
Bannon was also highly critical of China and President Xi Jinping. Bannon said that the Chinese, “have run the tables on us” – and that the United States has become a tributary state to China.”
Being here in California, Bannon targeted the tech leaders in the Silicon Valley, “We are going to have to worry about the Lords of technology in the Silicon Valley. You’ve got a very dangerous thing going on in this state.”
In talking to the blue state crowd of Californians before him, Bannon said, “Winning matters. You’re not here to waste your time. You don’t want moral victories. You want victory victories. It’s time in California we started having some victories.
Bannon critiqued the actions of the left-wing Democrats in Sacramento and their making California a sanctuary state, warning everyone present: “You are a sanctuary state. Trust me if you don’t roll this back — ten or fifteen years from now the folks from the Silicon Valley and the progressive left in this state are going to try and secede from this state.”
He went on to tell beleaguered California Republicans, “The resistance is not the people you see outside,” referring to the small group of protesters. That’s actually, quite frankly, going to help Republicans” – saying that they will push the Democrats to the left.
In his final statement to the crowd, Bannon closed by admonishing the crowd, “It’s always darkest before the dawn… The permanent political class who control this country and the progressive Democrats who sit on the other side of that are not just going to give this country back. You’re going to have to take it back!”
When Bannon entered the dining room he was greeted with applause, a theme that continued with more applause throughout his forty minute speech at this dinner packed with GOP donors, activists and smattering of elected officeholders. One notable dinner guest who came in from out of town was controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Arizona. While Orange County is represented by four GOP Members of Congress – Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) – none of them were in attendance.
As Bannon’s remarks concluded, the buzz and energy in the room were palpable. Reactions to the speech were effusive:
“He talked to us like we were adults and I think that terrifies the elitists,” said Jan Leja, the head of the San Bernardino County Republican Party. “And he’s not afraid to talk to us like adults and I think that was refreshing.”
Jim Lacy, a delegate from Orange County said that “Everything that Steve Bannon said about the leadership of President Trump was right on the mark – and his honest predictions about the long-term detrimental impacts of California becoming a sanctuary state.”
Grover Norquist, the President of Americans for Tax Reform, who was in the audience told Breitbart News, “It’s could have been a complaint speech but it wasn’t – it was an action speech — it was a call to war.”
Security was tight for the dinner – with all delegates and guests forced into two single-file lines and through metal detectors. Guests paid $100 for a plated dinner of filet mignon, or $300 to attend a VIP reception and the dinner, and get a photo with Bannon. It was reported that protestors from the group Indivisible, that purports to be dedicated to preserving the “progressive ecosystem,” would be holding a major protest outside of the hotel. That said, only a small handful of people showed up, and were dwarfed by a large contingent of officers from the Anaheim Police Department.
Until August, Bannon served in the Trump White House, and he is now spearheading a national effort to draft primary challengers to establishment Republican lawmakers.
As the Breitbart News Network previously reported Bannon has started meeting with notable Republican donors, many of whom remain frustrated by the Republican establishment’s inability to pass significant legislation such as repealing and replacing Obamacare, tax reform, and funding a southern border wall.
Bannon’s remarks opened a convention that will also feature speeches from Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro and House Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
He received three standing ovations. One when he was introduced, the second at the start of his address, and again upon conclusion.
Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor for Breitbart California. You can follow him on Twitter here.