In the latest in a string of attacks on so-called establishment Republicans, former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon went after former President George W. Bush on Friday night, calling his legacy “destructive” and questioning his intelligence.
“There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s,” Bannon said, speaking at the convention banquet of the California Republican Party, which is a majority Democratic state.
Bush delivered a speech on democracy and security on Thursday that some took as a nameless rebuke of President Trump.
Bush said, “bigotry seems emboldened” in the United States now and warned that Americans need to reject “white supremacy” and accept “globalization” in free trade.
“It was clear he didn’t understand anything he was talking about,” Bannon said. “He has no earthly idea of whether he’s coming or going, just like it was when he was president of the United States.”
Bannon is leading what he calls a “season of war” on the Republican establishment heading into the 2018 midterm elections. He is backing primary challengers in multiple states, after his candidate, former judge Roy Moore, successfully won the special Alabama Senate primary against an establishment (and Trump)-backed opponent in September.
Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, in July 2016 referred to his conservative media site as “the platform for the alt-right” during an interview with Mother Jones. The reference is often cited by critics in the ongoing national conversation about white supremacist beliefs among alt-right supporters of Trump.
Bush is not running for office and has not campaigned for any candidates this year. He was speaking at a forum for the George W. Bush Institute.
Bannon’s speech was reportedly well-received and ended with a standing ovation, according to The Associated Press.