Bannon lambastes GOP leaders in bitter Alabama Senate race

Bannon lambastes GOP leaders in bitter Alabama Senate race

FAIRHOPE, Ala. — Populist firebrand Steve Bannon savaged national Republican leaders in a fiery call to rally voters behind embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore as the battle for the GOP’s soul spilled into a dirt-floor barn deep in rural Alabama.

Bannon, known best for his former role as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, called GOP leaders in Congress “cowards” Tuesday night and attacked the party’s 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney as a draft dodger. Bannon defended Moore, who is fighting several allegations of sexual misconduct and a Washington establishment that wants him to lose the Dec. 12 election.

“The days of taking it silently are over,” Bannon declared at a rally that drew hundreds of Moore supporters to a local farm in the southwestern corner of the state.

“They want to destroy Judge Roy Moore. You know why? They want to take your voice away,” Bannon said as Moore looked on. “If they can destroy Roy Moore, they can destroy you.”

Bannon’s appearance was a welcome development for Moore, who has been shunned by the Republican Party’s biggest stars. Trump himself agreed to campaign later in the week in nearby Florida, but many national GOP leaders say the allegations against Moore are credible and he shouldn’t serve in the Senate.

Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Moore, if elected on Dec. 12, would “immediately have an issue with the Ethics Committee” — a process that could lead to his ultimate expulsion from the Senate. Some Republicans, including Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, have already promised expulsion.

Another Republican, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, sent a $100 check to Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones on Tuesday. He tweeted a picture of the check and the words, “Country over party.”

And Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said this week that Moore would be “a stain on the GOP and the nation.” ”No vote, no majority is worth losing our honour, our integrity,” Romney tweeted.

Bannon was most aggressive Tuesday night with Romney, charging that Moore had more integrity and honour than Romney’s entire family. He noted that Moore graduated from the United States Military Academy, while Romney received a draft deferment for his missionary work in France.

“You hid behind your religion,” Bannon said. “Do not talk to me about honour and integrity.”

Moore, 70, faces multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, including accusations that he molested two teenage girls and pursued romantic relationships with several others while in his 30s. He has denied the allegations.

Outside the event, about three dozen protesters, some dressed as handmaidens to symbolize Moore’s accusers, chanted, “We want a senator, not a predator.”

Many gathered inside Oak Hollow Farm’s barn have dismissed the allegations as fake. Some didn’t seem to mind them, even if true.

“What girl hasn’t been kissed at 17 years old?” asked Diane Myrick, 69, of nearby Bon Secour. “I know a girl who got married at 14.”

Moore didn’t address the allegations directly Tuesday night. Instead, he cast himself as a political outsider fighting the establishment in both parties, just like Trump did one year ago. He also reminded Alabama voters of his focus on Christian conservative values.

“I know we do not need transgender in our military,” Moore said. “If I’m in a foxhole, I don’t want to know whether this guy next to me is wondering if he’s a woman or a man.”

Bannon’s presence had less to do with Moore’s religious convictions than with their shared disdain for Washington Republicans.

Moore was twice removed from his state Supreme Court position, once for disobeying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building and later for urging state probate judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage.

Bannon is far more focused on economic populism and immigration. But, like Bannon, Moore has promised to stand up to McConnell, a Republican who is deeply unpopular among many diehard Trump supporters.

Bannon served as Trump’s chief strategist during the final months of his presidential campaign and in the early months of his presidency. He was pushed out of the White House in August.

Bannon has resumed his leadership role at the pro-Trump Breitbart News and launched a broad campaign to take down establishment Republicans across the nation.

Moore may get a bigger boost Friday when Trump hosts a campaign-style rally in Pensacola, Florida, less than 20 miles (32 kilometres) from the Alabama border. The Republican president formally endorsed Moore on Monday and directed the Republican National Committee to send some financial assistance after withdrawing roughly a dozen staffers last month.

The RNC made two transfers to the Alabama GOP this week designed to benefit Moore’s campaign — one of $50,000 and another of $120,000 — according to one RNC official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Earlier in the day, roughly 250 miles (more than 400 kilometres) to the north, Moore’s Democratic opponent called Moore an embarrassment who would be a “disaster” for Alabama in Washington.

“I damn sure believe that I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate,” Jones said during a campaign stop in Birmingham, referring to his own record as a former federal prosecutor.

On Wednesday, Jones called for Democratic Sen. Al. Franken to step aside amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

“This is a bipartisan issue. This is about women and making sure we respect them,” he said.

Meanwhile, some in Alabama welcomed Moore’s hardline devotion to Christian conservative values and attacks on the Republican establishment.

Frank Blakeman, a former history teacher from nearby Foley, described Moore as a continuation of Trump’s conservative movement.

“There has been a tug in this country overall to one side,” Blakeman said before the rally. “I think Roy Moore represents the wish and desire of the other half of the country to pull that back across. Is he extreme in some of his views? Yes, I think he is. Since politics is a tug of war, you need people to pull to at least get it back somewhere in the middle.”

Bannon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watches a speaker appear by videoconference during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, April 9, 2021. Grassroots Liberals have overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling on the federal government to develop and implement a universal basic income — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the idea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau winds up Liberal convention with election campaign-style speech

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau wound up a three-day Liberal convention Saturday with… Continue reading

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher makes a shot against Italy at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 6, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Men’s world curling championship in Calgary in COVID limbo

CALGARY — The men’s world curling championship in Calgary remained suspended Saturday… Continue reading

Pipes intended for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline are shown in Gascoyne, N.D. on Wednesday April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Non-profit Quebec law centre to aid environmental group targeted by Alberta oil firm

QUEBEC — The Quebec Environmental Law Centre is coming to the aid… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives cite empathy, relationships as ways to help expand their movement

OTTAWA — Conservatives should show empathy with Black residents who say they’ve… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. New Democrats are reconvening for the second day of a three-day policy convention as they look to push past the glitches of the virtual event's opening sessions and rally around keynote speaker John Horgan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
New Democrats reconvene as hiccups, frustrations plague national policy convention

OTTAWA — New Democrats reconvened Saturday for the second day of a… Continue reading

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a joint statement with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his commitment to the Republican Party — and raise the possibility that someone else will be the GOP's next presidential nominee — in a closed-door speech to donors Saturday night, April 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Trump in 2024? He says only that ‘a Republican’ will win

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his… Continue reading

A cruise ship sits docked waiting for passengers to be evacuated in Kingstown, on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Friday, April 9, 2021 due to the eruption of La Soufriere volcano. (AP Photo/Orvil Samuel)
Ash-covered St. Vincent braces for more volcanic eruptions

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — People who ignored an initial warning to evacuate… Continue reading

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Most Read