Politics

Steve Bannon continues his attack on the GOP in a combative speech

Steve Bannon addresses the California GOP 2017 Convention in Anaheim, California on October 20, 2017.
Steve Bannon addresses the California GOP 2017 Convention in Anaheim, California on October 20, 2017.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Former presidential adviser Steve Bannon continued his attack on the GOP establishment with a combative keynote speech at the California Republican fall convention in Anaheim on Friday night.

Bannon attacked George W. Bush, calling the former President "a piece of work." Bush was only one of several high-profile, establishment Republicans who Bannon targeted by name. 

He also slammed Arizona senator John McCain and GOP consultant Karl Rove. But it was the former president who received Bannon’s sharpest criticism.

Some local Republicans in the crowd booed Bush and McCain when Bannon mentioned them.

"He has no earthly idea whether he’s coming or going, just like it was when he was President of the United States," Bannon said.

He was responding to a speech Bush made earlier this week, denouncing President Trump without naming him. In that speech, Bush decried bullying and prejudice in U.S. politics and said being American means embracing high ideals and civic responsibility.

During the approximately 40-minute speech, Bannon touted his core philosophy of economic nationalism, saying it's "not what’s going to drive us apart. It’s what’s going to bind us together. It’s not about your race, your color, your gender, your religion, your ethnicity, your sexual preference – it’s about one thing: Are you a citizen of the United States of America?"

He also criticized California's "sanctuary state" law. "You’ve got a very dangerous thing going on in this state," Bannon said.

He warned that if the state doesn't repeal the law, "the folks in Silicon Valley and the progressive left in this state are gonna try to secede from the union."

Outside the Marriott hotel where Bannon spoke, the controversial executive chairman of far-right outlet Breitbart News also drew a small, non-violent group of protestors, some of whom sang, "He is a bigot and a troll."

Laguna Beach resident Mary Carter described her reaction when she heard that Bannon was coming to Anaheim: "Nausea, sadness. We do not like people that are racist. We don’t need it. We don’t want it. We don’t want any white supremacists."

Meanwhile, local Republicans gave Bannon a standing ovation and lined up to pose for photos with the man who is often credited with helping Donald Trump win the White House.

The convention runs through Sunday. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy from Bakersfield spoke earlier Saturday.