Former White House strategist and current Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon has teamed up with conservative donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer to promote insurgent candidates to challenge the GOP establishment and create an organizational apparatus to advance the populist and economic nationalist policies championed by those candidates.
Kenneth P. Vogel and Jeremy W. Peters report in the New York Times:
“We’ve got a long haul in front of us,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview at the Capitol Hill townhouse that doubles as his part-time residence and as the Washington headquarters of Breitbart News, the website owned in part by the Mercers and run by Mr. Bannon.
[Bannon] and Mr. Mercer began hashing out a rough outline for a “shadow party” that would advance Mr. Trump’s America First agenda — even if Mr. Trump himself strayed from it — during a five-hour meeting last month at the family’s Long Island estate a couple of days before Mr. Bannon’s resignation from the White House.
Early plans call for the creation of a sort of think tank to articulate the animating issues of the coalition, according to donors and operatives who have talked to Mr. Bannon, the Mercers or their allies. They say the coalition will ally with existing groups on specific issues and will support vetted candidates and causes.
To the extent that there is any ideological overlap among candidates the new coalition will support, it will probably be that they favor limiting immigration, making trade policies more advantageous to American manufacturers and disentangling the United States from sweeping international agreements — and destroying the establishment.
In the meantime, the new coalition will not be afraid to call out Mr. Trump when he wavers on campaign promises like building a wall along the southern border with Mexico, said people familiar with the plans.
“We want to be supportive of him, and we believe the agenda he ran on was correct,” said Chris Buskirk, the publisher of the online journal American Greatness, who has been recruited to help articulate and defend the policy positions espoused by the coalition. “We also want to lay the foundation for political change that both outlives this administration and expands upon it.”
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