By Alana Abramson
October 15, 2017

Steve Bannon ratcheted up his populist rhetoric at the Values Voter Summit Saturday, calling out Senators Mitch McConnell and Bob Corker by name and vowing to defeat the Republican establishment in the 2018 midterm elections.

“This is not my war, this is our war,” the Breitbart CEO and former chief White House strategist told cheering attendees at the annual convention. “And you all didn’t start it, the establishment started it. I will tell you one thing — you all are gonna finish it.”

Noting that the group had a “lot of fights ahead,” Bannon said it was crucial to take on the GOP establishment before effectively turning their energy towards progressives, especially since the current crop of GOP lawmakers do not appreciate President Trump. This disrespect, Bannon said, was evidenced when Senator Bob Corker told the New York Times last week that Republican lawmakers were privately concerned about Trump’s ability to lead the country. Bannon seemed to insinuate that unless Republican lawmakers spoke out against Corker, they would face insurgent primary challenges.

“All you folks who are so concerned you are going to get primaried and defeated, there is time for a mea culpa,” he said of lawmakers.”You can come to a stick and condemn Senator Corker.”

Bannon also derided Corker, who he called a “piece of work” for speaking negatively about Trump while soldiers were serving overseas. (Senator John McCain’s daughter Meghan quickly noted on Twitter that Trump had attacked her father for his service while her brothers were in the military).

He then pivoted to McConnell, saying the Senate majority leader was not only making his constituents unhappy, but Republican donors also aren’t pleased. “The donors are not happy. They’ve all left you. We’ve cut off your oxygen, Mitch. Money’s not courageous, but money is smart.”

But Bannon’s ire did not stop with Corker and McConnell. He also said that senators worried about their reelection prospects should refuse to vote for McConnell as majority leader, and should advocate against the use of a filibuster to ease the way for Trump’s legislative agenda.

“Now Senator [John] Barasso, Senator [Dean] Heller and Senator [Deb] Fischer and the other one of you folks, Senator [Orrin] Hatch, these are good folks, they may reconsider,” Bannon said, directly naming four of the eight Senators up for reelection in 2018. “But until that time, they’re coming for you.”

 

Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com.

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