Freed of any need to be marginally politically-correct, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon took his fight to the Republican establishment during a speech to a capacity crowd at an almost oxymoronic California Republican Party convention.
The ubiquitous protesters were there...
But were kept behind steel barricades on a plaza across an entrance road at the hotel and no arrests were made, as Bannon blasted former President George W. Bush for 'embarrassing himself' for his comments suggesting a Trump America led to 'nativism' and 'casual cruelty.'
Bannon said Bush has no idea whether “he is coming or going, just like it was when he was president.”
“There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s,” Bannon added, as boos could be heard in the crowd at the mention of Bush’s name.
As AP reports, the remarks came during a speech thick with attacks on the Washington status quo, echoing his call for an “open revolt” against establishment Republicans.
He called the “permanent political class” one of the great dangers faced by the country.
Bannon said that while John Mccain 'deserves our respect, as a politician, he's just another Senator from Arizona.'
Bannon also took aim at the Silicon Valley and its 'lords of technology,' predicting that tech leaders and progressives in the state would try to secede from the union in 10 to 15 years. He called the threat to break up the nation a 'living problem.'
Bannon also argued that the coalition that sent Trump to the White House, including conservatives, Libertarians, populists, economic nationalists, evangelicals, could hold power for decades if they stay unified.
“If you have the wisdom, the strength, the tenacity, to hold that coalition together, we will govern for 50 to 75 years,” he said.
He also tried to cheer long-suffering California Republicans, in a state that Trump lost by over 4 million votes and where Republicans have become largely irrelevant in state politics.
In Orange County, where the convention was held, several Republican House members are trying to hold onto their seats in districts carried by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential contest.
'You've got everything you need to win,' he told them.
He ended his speech with a standing ovation.
Bannon is promoting a field of primary challengers to take on incumbent Republicans in Congress. But in California, the GOP has been fading for years. Republicans are now a minor party in many California congressional districts, outnumbered by Democrats and independents. Statewide, Democrats count 3.7 million more voters than the GOP.
Not all Republicans were glad to see Bannon though. In a series of tweets last week, former state Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes said he was shocked by the decision to have the conservative firebrand headline the event.
“It’s a huge step backward and demonstrates that the party remains tone deaf,” Mayes tweeted.
As AP concluded, California Republicans have bickered for years over what direction to turn - toward the political center or to the right.
'Steve Bannon is a natural fit for a party that is hungry for a revolution, and the party in California is definitely hungry for a revolution,' former Orange County Republican leader Scott Baugh said.