Former White House strategist Steve Bannon contended Sunday that President Donald Trump’s biggest political enemy is “a corrupt and incompetent Republican establishment” that’s out to kill his chief objectives.
Speaking at a conservative gathering in St. Louis, Bannon asserted that Republican leaders in Washington have “not had any support for [Trump’s] populist, nationalist, conservative message; his populist, nationalist, conservative ideas; his populist, conservative nationalist programs.”
“You know why?” Bannon went on. “They are not populists, they are elitists. They’re not nationalists, they’re globalists. They’re not conservatives, they are liberals. And that is what we’ve got to fight every day.”
Bannon addressed several hundred fellow conservatives gathered at the Marriott St. Louis Airport for the annual Eagle Council. It’s an offshoot of the Eagle Forum organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, a Ladue-based conservative activist who died a year ago.
The council had honored Bannon with an award at a private luncheon earlier in the day.
Bannon — who left his White House post several weeks ago — said his aim now is to serve as Trump’s “wingman’’ and fend off unfair GOP attacks.
Bannon’s brief remarks capped an hour-long public rally that featured a number of conservative speakers and candidates, some local and others from around the country, who were equally critical of national Republicans.
Emcee Bill Hennessy, a co-founder of the St. Louis Tea Party, ignited chuckles and cheers when he stood in silence after announcing he was going to list the achievements of U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Hennessy then introduced Paul Nehlen, a Wisconsin businessman who challenged Ryan in the 2016 GOP primary. Nehlen plans to do so again next year.
Terry Johnson, a retired businessman from Hazelwood, was among the event’s attendees — many of whom were sporting pro-Trump T-shirts — who are furious with what they see as GOP inaction in Congress.
“The Republican Party seems to be so fractured and I don’t know how they’re ever going to come back together,’’ Johnson said. Referring to GOP congressional leaders, he added, “They don’t realize they have no support out here in the country.”
Small group protest Bannon’s visit
About a dozen protesters gathered across the street from the hotel, holding large letters that spelled “RACIST.”
Anne Taussig of St. Louis said the group objected to Bannon’s stop in St. Louis. “He has shown himself to be the ultimate poster child for white supremacy,” she said. “We’re against everything he stands for.”
At the conference, Hennessy tweaked the protesters by observing to the crowd, “You’re not really a legitimate organization until somebody’s protesting you.”