Bannon Rallies Conservatives for 'Economic Nationalist Agenda'

  • Says supporters must fight ‘every day’ for Trump policies
  • Adviser says ‘corporatist, globalist media’ oppose president

Trump's Muddled Message From a Divided White House

President Donald Trump’s top advisers girded conservative activists for battle with the nation’s political and media establishments to deliver his campaign agenda of trade protection, immigration limits and a shrinking of government regulation.

“Every day is going to be a fight,” Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, said. “We want you to have our back.” He warned that “the corporatist, globalist media” are “adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has.”

Bannon, in his first public address since he joined the Trump team in August, shared the stage with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of activists in Washington that has gained increasing influence in Republican Party politics. The two, often portrayed as leading conflicting camps within the administration, offered a show of congenial unity.

Bannon, 63, brushed aside reports of friction between him and Priebus even as he reinforced portraits of their divergent sensibilities. Bannon, an iconoclastic former executive chairman of Breitbart News, is often cast as Trump’s id to the ego of Priebus, a former Republican Party chairman.

Hot and Steady

“I can run a little hot, Reince is always kind of steady,” said Bannon, who appeared in open collar beside Priebus, 44, dressed in tie and pinstripes.

Vice President Mike Pence reinforced Bannon’s us-against-them rhetoric when he took the stage Thursday evening.

"The media, the elites, the insiders, everybody else who profits off of preserving the status quo, they dismissed our president every step of the way," Pence said. "And in dismissing him, they also dismissed millions of the hard-working, forgotten men and women who make this country great. And worse yet, they’re still trying to dismiss him. They’re still trying to dismiss all of us."

Bannon, Priebus and Pence assured the thousands of activists that Trump wouldn’t back down from his campaign promises. Pence said, "We’re in the promise-keeping business these days." Bannon said he’s proud that Trump has refused to moderate his message or to give any ground on delivering on his campaign commitments.

Proud Moment

“If you think they will give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken,” Bannon said. “Every day it will be a fight, and that is when I am proudest of Donald Trump.” He added that, among the goals of the Trump presidency, is “deconstruction of the administrative state.”

Bannon said the biggest moment so far in the administration was Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, calling it “one of the most pivotal moments in modern American history.”

Priebus cited the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a decision which he said could affect the course of law for the next 40 years.

Although Trump was ridiculed at last year’s CPAC conference by rival presidential candidates and skipped the gathering to campaign elsewhere, prominent members of his administration this year dominate program.

Anti-Establishment

Some of them delivered a similar message of defiance against entrenched interests in Washington. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made repeated references to fights with the “establishment” to advance Trump’s education agenda.

“The education establishment has been blocking the doorway to reforms, fixes and improvements for a generation,” DeVos told the CPAC crowd.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway also talked to the group Thursday. Other Trump administration officials scheduled to speak include Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency; deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka; and Andrew Bremberg, director of Trump’s Domestic Policy Council. Trump is set to address the gathering on Friday.

A planned appearance this year by Milo Yiannopoulos, a former senior editor at Breitbart News, sparked controversy. CPAC’s organizer, American Conservative Union, uninvited Yiannopoulos from the event, and he resigned from Breitbart after videos surfaced of him defending pedophilia.

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