Speed Reads

GOP vs Bannon

Establishment Republicans preview their counterpunch against Stephen Bannon

In the Republican civil war between congressional Republicans and President Trump, currently "there is no question: Trump, and his former strategist and now-Breitbart chief Steve Bannon, are winning," Politico says. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies struck back, declaring "open warfare" on Bannon (though not Trump), The Washington Post reports. A McConnell-allied super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund (SLC), outlined plans to "highlight Bannon's hard-line populism and attempt to link him to white nationalism to discredit him and the candidates he will support," the Post said, as well as "boost candidates with traditional GOP profiles."

The SLC previewed its attack on Wednesday, hitting at both Bannon and Nevada Republican Danny Tarkanian, whom Bannon has been speaking with about mounting a primary challenge against Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.):

The SLC said it plans to spend millions to sideline Bannon and back anti-Bannon Republicans, arguing that Bannon's insurrection puts GOP control of Congress at risk. "In states where Trump is popular, Bannon gives Democrats an alternate pathway to fire up their base and appeal to swing voters who support the president but recoil at Bannon's racially charged worldview," SLC chief Steven Law told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday. Longtime McConnell adviser Josh Holmes also called Bannon a white supremacist in a recent interview.

Bannon, who has financial backing from billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, and his allies laughed off this line of attack, noting that it seems not to have worked for Democrats in 2016. "Do we need any further evidence than Mitch McConnell and his cronies reducing themselves to using left-wing talking points to attack Steve?" said Andy Surabian, a Bannon ally. "It's pathetic to watch. ... Every poll shows Mitch McConnell is an albatross on the Republican candidates."