President Donald Trump endorsed Roy Moore on Twitter and his comments
Former White House adviser Steve Bannon has been a long Moore advocate
Former White House adviser Steve Bannon returns to Alabama to campaign for Roy Moore on Tuesday – and this time, President Donald Trump is on his side.
Trump’s decision Monday to call Moore and offer his full-throated endorsement to the Republican candidate for a US Senate seat, despite the accusations that Moore pursued sexual relationships with teenage girls while in his 30s, brought full circle an effort Bannon began while still in the White House.
Moore’s campaign said that during their phone conversation, Trump called the Senate hopeful a “fighter,” and wrapped up the call by saying, “go get ‘em, Roy!”
Trump had already backed Moore on Twitter earlier Monday.
“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” Trump tweeted. “We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!”
Bannon, on a radio program hosted by Breitbart, where he is the top executive, later said: “Liberal Puppet Jones, that’s a good handle, it’s almost as good as Little Bobby Corker or Crooked Hillary, et cetera.”
Campaigning for Moore on Tuesday night, Bannon plans to bring “fire and fury,” a source familiar with his plans said.
He plans to go hard after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who until recently had looked for ways to get Moore out of the race because of the sexual allegations. And he’ll say that the “deplorables” – of whom he considers himself a leader – are responsible for Trump endorsing Moore and the Republican National Committee reversing its earlier decision to cut Moore off and going back into Alabama this week.
He’ll say that Jones is both a radical progressive and someone the McConnell-led Senate GOP would rather see elected than a member of their own party.
It took Bannon at least four months – and he was dismissed as White House chief strategist in August – to get Trump on his side.
In the White House, he advocated for the President to back Moore over Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican primary for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former seat.
But Trump ultimately sided with McConnell in supporting the incumbent Strange.
Still, Bannon urged major conservative donors to back Moore. He met with him in Washington. He made headlines with a campaign event in a barn in Fairhope, Alabama – southeast of Mobile, an area packed with the moderate, pro-business Republicans who Moore has to win over – on the eve of Moore’s September runoff election against Strange.
And when McConnell dumped Moore and Trump went days without commenting on the allegations during his Asia trip, Bannon continued his support.
He’ll return to the same site Tuesday night for what could be a rally aimed as much at McConnell – as a symbol of the Washington establishment – as Jones. As of Monday afternoon, 2,000 people had indicated on Facebook they were interested in attending the rally.
It comes three days before Trump holds an event in nearby Pensacola, Florida – 25 miles east of the Alabama border.
That Trump would even go near Alabama is a victory for both Moore and Bannon.
McConnell’s super PAC pumped millions into the effort to help Strange. And when the sexual allegations were first reported by The Washington Post, McConnell called them credible and urged Moore to withdraw from the race.
McConnell’s political aides drafted a memo laying out potential scenarios in which Moore could be replaced. His allies polled Alabama voters to see if Strange or even Sessions could beat Moore as a write-in candidate.
None of it worked: Moore stayed in the race. And McConnell appeared to admit defeat Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I think we’re going to let the people of Alabama decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate, and then we’ll address the matter appropriately,” McConnell said.
Potentially pushing Trump closer to Moore, Trump’s nemesis Mitt Romney implicitly criticized the President on Monday for supporting Moore.
“Roy Moore in the US Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity,” Romney tweeted.
CNN’s Dana Bash contributed to this report.