Editor’s note: Former Trump administration strategist and GOP agitator Stephen K. Bannon addressed California Republicans at their fall convention in Anaheim on Friday. Here is a transcript of his keynote address as compiled by Los Angeles Times staff.
I just want to make sure you know that your work is not wasted. Time magazine is coming out with this new edition this week and it just posted on its website. Its lead story: “
They should thank Steve Bannon.
I know everyone isn't happy about the budget that they passed today, but if you want tax reform, we had to have that budget pass and they finally got something done. It's not about me. It's about the people in the convention today. It's about the people in Alabama. It's about the people in Wisconsin. It's about the people in Tennessee. The Republican establishment is finally getting the joke. They are going to have to step it up.
The theme of my speech and our talk tonight is victory begets victory.
At 2:30 a.m. on the 9th of November 2016 (audience cheers), the Associated Press announced that Donald J. Trump was the president-elect of the United States. Eighty-five days before that, on I think it was August 14th or 15th, I took over as CEO with
I think the numbers are roughly something like this. We were 16 points down. I think double digits down or thereabouts on every battleground state. We were 70 on the generic ballot of Republicans. You gotta be at 90. Nine out of every 10 Republicans have to vote for you for the president of the United States to win.
The campaign didn't have a lot of money, not a lot of organization. First call I made was to Reince Priebus at the RNC and got his best people — Katie Walsh, Reince, Sean Spicer, all of them came up. I got Dave Bossie, like I said Kellyanne Conway, Bill Stepien. We put together a team in 72 hours.
Victory begets victory. We don't have a problem with ideas. We have a problem of understanding how to win. It is about winning. Nothing else matters. If you want to take your state back, if you want to take your country back, you're going to have to roll your sleeves up. There is no one person — Donald Trump, Mark Meadows,
What's gonna get it done is each and every one of you and the people at this convention. How do we pull off the win? We pulled off the win by having the RNC and the Republican establishment put their shoulder to the wheel with the Trump campaign state by state.
We had a strategy. We knew we had to win Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Iowa just to get to the table. I don't think a Republican in living memory has done that.
Once we got there, we had two paths to victory. The path that I was most focused on, with a couple of guys in the campaign, because we had the data analytics and micro targeting to show us what to do was break the blue wall up north — Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa. In Minnesota we lost by one point.
Now how did we do that? We did it through teamwork. We did it through a coalition.
What we had to bring together, were populists and nationalists and evangelical Christians and conservatives and establishment Republicans. We had to put our differences aside in order to win.
Since that time, some of those differences have come up. The United States Senate in particular has done, I think, a terrible job in supporting President Trump.
And let me say something about President Trump: I've had the great honor of being the CEO of the campaign and then being his chief strategist and senior council in the White House. And now, I'm proud to say, his wingman outside.
You know, Donald Trump was worth what? I don’t know, four, five, six, seven billion dollars? Had a lovely wife, a great family, loving children, he had friends. When you see Donald Trump around his friends, you know what friendship really is — real camaraderie.
He owned some of the best properties in the world. He was buying golf courses and turning those golf courses, some of them championship courses, getting them into the open championship … . Doing things that a guy that is about 70 years old would do at the culmination of one's life, right? Kinda that last sprint that you're going to have.
There was no reason for him to run for president of the United States, except one. He felt he had a duty to his country.
And all that money was not to debate issues. We didn’t have a big debate on immigration or on national security. There wasn’t a big debate on tax policy.
What they used it for was the politics of personal destruction. They tried to destroy Donald Trump, and you know why? Because Donald Trump is an existential threat to the system. That's a highfalutin, you know, Harvard word. What does that mean? It means it goes right to the heart of the beast.
Donald Trump knows all the games, he knows all the scams, he knows everything that goes down in Washington, D.C. They've tried to shake businessmen like Donald Trump down for years. The permanent political class that runs this country is one of the great dangers we face.
Everything you see on cable TV, everything you see that these guys back here, the opposition party, and good evening opposition party.
Nobody should say CNN sucks. This is not a Trump rally. Everything you see on cable TV, you know MSNBC or CNN or Fox, that's pro wrestling. That's in the foreground, right? That’s to divert your attention of what's really going on, OK?
There is a business model that the permanent political class have.
Seven of the nine richest counties in the United States of America surround Washington, D.C. For the first time since the invention of the Silicon ship, Washington, D.C., those seven counties have a higher per-cap income than Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley, which by the way has led the greatest revolution in technology in man's history, and had more great inventions. Now what does Washington, D.C., have? What they've got is basically a private equity fund of every year, what four trillion dollars that they divvy up.
The consulting class, the lobbyists, the K street crowd, the donor class and the politicians the own, they have taken this country in a very, very dangerous — very, very dangerous — direction.
Donald Trump, the whole campaign, and this is why it had to be a coalition. This is why it had to be the Republican establishment, it had to be limited-government conservatives, it had to be libertarians, it had to be populists, it had to be economic nationalists, it had to be evangelical Christians.
If you have the wisdom, the strength, the tenacity to hold that coalition together, we will govern for 50 to 75 years. And it's not going to be easy. Not everybody agrees on everything, right? Grover Norquist, I don't know where Grover is here tonight. Grover, where are you, brother? Grover Norquist, one of the greatest guys on taxes around. Grover and I don't agree on everything in policy, right?
The economic nationalists don't agree with the libertarians, the libertarians don't agree with the limited government conservatives. Often times we have a lot of different opinions on foreign policy. But we agree on enough stuff that we combine together.
If we do not unite, and unite not just in campaigning but in governing, and understand we are going to have to put certain differences aside to get things done. We are going to be run out of office and you know what? We deserve to be run out of office. There is absolutely no excuses anymore.
I hate people that whine. A lot of what I hear all the time is nothing but whining. And that whining is, oh we can't do this and we can't do that. We have the House, we have the Senate, we have presidency we have the executive branch of the government. We are about to get the Supreme Court and we are about to get the judiciary system back.
There is absolutely nothing we can't do. If we do one thing, if we move with urgency. Now the resistance that comes up against that, is not the people that are outside protesting tonight. When those people finally understand what economic nationalism is about and 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? Because if you are a citizen, there are certain responsibilities and obligations that come with that. But as a citizen also you should have preference for jobs and economic opportunities. Economic nationalism is not what’s going to drive us apart, it's what’s going to bind us together.
We've had a very dangerous thing come as conservatives over the last 30 or 40 years — just another thing I know everybody in this room is not going to agree with. This kind of Austrian School of economics, this kind of Ayn Rand, you know, where everything was about the economy. What was most important six weeks before the election — gotta see what the unemployment rate is, it’s GDP as everything.
We are not an economy. We are a country. We have a social fabric and a civic responsibility. By the way, I'm a free market capitalist, as most of you are, right? That’s the underpinnings of our society.
But we are a civic society, it's more than an economy. An economic nationalism, looking out for our fellow men to make sure that manufacturing jobs that we allowed go to Asia come back to the United States of America.
If you want to talk about the civic society, I don't know if y’all have read J.D. Vance's fantastic book, “Hillbilly Elegies” [sic]. J.D. is a guy who went to Yale, a Marine Corps officer, fantastic writer and a conservative. And a conservative.
But the book shows kind of the socioeconomic underpinnings of the Trump revolt, particularly in the upper Midwest. And J.D. was a guy that showed me a study that had been done by a couple of professors at MIT and Harvard. It shows you a direct correlation between the factories that got shipped to Asia, the jobs that left and the individuals behind that became addicted in this opioid crisis.
Our country is in a crisis. We have to move with urgency. The working class people in this country have responded to our message. They've responded to Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is the only person that could have beaten Hillary Clinton. He is an imperfect individual as we are all imperfect. But he was an instrument. You could say he was an instrument of god's will or not, but I will tell you it took the hand of divine providence to win on November 9 of 2016.
And that's one of the things that upset me so much about what's happened in the last six or seven months. The lack of urgency, the lack of work. You know I'm so proud of this thing right here: Mitch McConnell announced the other day that they’re going to start working five and six days a week. People in this country are working two and three jobs.
During the last hurricane, I think it was on CNN and this was not fake news. Somebody did a study, and I think I'm quoting correctly, that half of the households in this country, in our beloved country, don't have 400 dollars in cash to meet an emergency. Four hundred dollars in cash.
What would the people that fought in the American Revolution think about that? What would the people who died in Guadalcanal think about that? That we have a country that has created 5 trillion dollars of wealth on the combined stock exchanges in equity value, right? But the people that have a high school diploma have not had a raise since 1970, and that half of the families in this country can’t find 400 dollars in cash.
If we do not take care of this problem — and I'm not about redistribution of wealth — but what I am about and what we have to be about is that people do not have to compete unfairly against foreign labor, whether that foreign labor is in China or whether that is illegal alien labor that comes into the United States of America.
Victory begets victory. Look what's happened since Alabama. Let's talk about Alabama for a second. Now Alabama, I was on the opposite side of the football with the president. There were a couple of reasons for that. I think the president got some bad information. But I will tell you what: You see the power in Alabama of the evangelical Christian movement and the populist nationalist that Mo Brooks represented. When they come together, you cannot beat them. And you can't beat them with money.
The theory of the case in Alabama was very simple and it's the reason why I didn't want any big donors putting money in. We had to prove something: that the donor class and Mitch McConnell's money doesn't mean anything. We had to turn their biggest asset into their biggest liability.
They spent 32 million dollars. Thirty-two million dollars on a state like Alabama against two million from Judge Roy Moore. And you know what they did? It wasn't there to debate the great issues of our time. It wasn't there to debate immigration. It wasn't there to debate America's role in the world. Just like Hillary Clinton and the
And you know what they said his big crime was? That he put the Ten Commandments in a courthouse. The Ten Commandments, which is the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian west, and reinforces man's imperfection.
Judge Moore won 55-45. Fox News put up some fake news yesterday, a poll that showed that Judge Moore tied. Just to say, ‘Hey, this revolt that Bannon and these crazies are doing against the Republican establishment are not going to turn out too well.”
Well guess what? Today's poll. By the way that was for registered voters not likely voters. The poll that came out today from the local TV station that got the primary dead spot-on, Judge Moore is up by 11 points.
The good thing about Alabama is look at what has happened since then. What we have had DAC, we had the 70-point program on DACA, including 20 deal killers and on top of a White House official — I won't say it’s Steven Miller — but a White House official came out and said there is no path to citizenship, right?
We had pulling out of UNESCO, right? We had the decertification of the Iran deal, IGRC [sic], a terrorist organization. We had stopped the illegal payments on Obamacare, the CSR payments. We had Secretary Mnuchin come out and reinforce this is going to be a middle-class tax cut, and the entrepreneurs are going to get almost the same tax cut that the big corporations are going to get, just to reinforce it.
Hell, every day since Alabama is Christmas Day. You know why? Winning matters.
You're not here to waste your time. You're not here to have moral victories. I don't want moral victories. I want victory victories. Because when you have victories you redo the judiciary for a generation. When you have victories you start to get our tax structure correct. When you get victories, you redo these crappy trade deals and start protecting American workers, American companies.
It's time in California we started to have some victories. The resistance is not the people you see outside. That’s not the resistance, right? That's actually, quite frankly, going to help Republicans. Because right now on those 23 very difficult districts that Hillary Clinton won yet Republicans have the House seats? The generic ballot? You may be 10 points down. But the resistance, our buddies outside, right? Who are good folks, they’re just misled, misinformed. They’re going to drag it so far to the left that we’re going to hold those districts, right? And Nancy Pelosi is not going to get her opportunity to impeach the president of the United States.
The resistance is this permanent political class, this combination of lobbyist and consultants and corporatists and globalists elites. And the heart of the resistance, the beating heart of it is Silicon Valley. The folks up there think that they get a special deal, right?
Put these companies in Ireland or Luxembourg or the Canary Islands where they put them so they don't have to pay taxes, right? They want all the benefits of a free society. They want all the benefits of this rules-based international order, right? This thing that we have created since World War II, this inextricably linked combination of commercial relationships, trade deals, capital markets, that we the citizens of the United States underwrite. And our sons and daughters, whether they went to West Point, the Naval Academy or just went down to boot camp in Parris Island or in San Diego — they underwrite it. We underwrite the whole thing.
That is what Donald Trump, that’s why he is an existential threat to the system. He understands that. He looks at the EU and says we are upside down in the trade deal and we fully finance NATO. Oh, excuse me, because Donald Trump forces them to pay 2%.
Let's talk about that for a second. Donald Trump put in a supplemental to the ‘17 budget of 30 billion dollars to upgrade our military because the readiness was so low. Because of these endless wars that we have been fighting for 15, 16, 17 years. Thirty billion dollars to the Marine Corps, the Air Force, the Navy for equipment and to help their people out. Thirty billion dollars in supplemental on a budget that was already 650 billion dollars.
The entire defense budget of Germany is 30 billion dollars or 32 billion dollars. Europe doesn't even make an attempt to defend itself. They are a protectorate of the United States of America. The gulf countries are protectorates of the United States of America. The countries around the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca: protectorates of the United States of America. Korea, Japan: protectorates of the United States of America.
That's what Donald Trump sees, that's why he talks about “America first.” It's not that we are going to be isolationist. It's not that we are going to walk away from the world, but we have to start thinking like adults about what the world is.
Within the last couple of days — it’s very interesting — and within 24 hours of each other, there were three speeches: President Xi in China, our beloved President George Bush (audience boos) — that's a piece of work — and
John McCain's grandfather is one of the greatest naval officers of the 20th century. We would not have won the war in the Pacific and World War II. Admiral Nimitz would not have won that without Admiral McCain. His father, a great naval officer. We would not have been as successful in Vietnam as we were with the fleet on the gun line on our Navy Air if it was not for John McCain's father.
John McCain, his service to the United States Navy is a pride to every naval officer in how he handled himself. And how John McCain has handled himself with this horrible disease he has and the class that his wife and daughter have shown, the whole family, and his two sons who serve in the Marine Corps. John McCain deserves our respect.
However, as a politician, John McCain is just another senator from Arizona. John McCain, the other day — and they were all loud — the New York Times and “Morning Joe,” it was the greatest speech in human history. It was Pericles in Athens, right? The speech was nothing but happy talk. We live in a dangerous world. It's time we started treating our fellow countrymen like adults and having adult conversations with them.
President Bush to me embarrassed himself. Speechwriter wrote a highfalutin speech. It's clear he didn't understand anything that he was talking about. He equates the industrial revolution, the agriculture revolution, globalization. He has no earthly idea whether he is coming or going — just like it was when he was president of the United States.
I want to apologize upfront to any of the Bush folks outside, in this audience, OK? Because there has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush's. (audience applauds)
The rise of China started with the Clintons and Bush. When they had this great theory that if you let them into the
This is not a small mistake. This is a strategic mistake of incalculable problems. Xi's speech the other night was not that we are going to be a super power with the United States, it's we’re going to be a hegemony. That our system, the Confucian mercantilist system, the system they’ve run of us for the last 30 or 40 years, is going to be dominant throughout the world.
That the One Belt One Road, this massive geopolitical project they have, that’s now moving into central Asia with the same naval bases around it that the British and the Americans had. It's a geopolitical expansion of, quite frankly, breathtaking audacity.
The Chinese have told you: Not only are they gonna run the tables on us, they've run the tables on us.
Raheem Kassam and Alex Marlow, the guys that did that are here, but provided a platform for UKIP to actually talk about what the issues were.
But although Brexit in 2016, and Hillary Clinton just admitted this the other day on BBC, that that was a forerunner. Canary in the mineshaft, as we knew it was gonna be.
The undertone of that, the ground tone of that, was China. It's China exporting of deflation in excess capacity that helped gut the midlands factory towns in the Upper Midwest. And it's bringing those jobs back, it’s bringing those jobs back where the opioid crisis is today that’s going to be our great challenge.
Silicon Valley, one of the things that I'm proudest of in the trade that we came up with is not the 232 about steel and the tariffs — which had everybody’s hair on fire, you know, where China is totally gaming us with the rest of the world to destroy our steel industry — but it’s the forced technology transfer of our technology. 3.5 trillion dollars in the last 10 years — I'm not talking about theft. Theft is horrific. But that’s due to human agency; it can’t be changed.
I'm talking about tribute. We are a tributary state to China. We are Jamestown to their Great Britain. We have a 400-billion-dollar trade deficit. We’d have five or six hundred billion if we didn't ship over, you know, coal and oil and gas and timber and copper and soybeans and hogs and beef and
The decline in America's ability to have folks to make a living is directly related — directly related — to us being gamed by China. The ascended economy of Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Hollywood and Washington, D.C., made out great. It's the descended economy, the shrinking economy, the people working two and three jobs, the people tied up in this opioid crisis — they are the ones that got screwed. And those are the ones that are looking for our leadership to turn this country around.
The candidates, the digital age has given us something very special. It’s helped us. And you see it in Alabama. In the digital age, it's made the analog even more important. We only need three things to win, three things. You need authenticity of a candidate. No more blow-dries, no more Frank Luntz “Words That Work” and words that don't work. Give me Donald Trump, give me Nigel Farage, give me Judge Roy Moore, give me Mo Brooks, give me any of these people. Give me somebody that’s authentic.
You don't have to be perfect. This is not a commoditized product like Proctor & Gamble. We need authenticity. As we know in the internet today, that’s something that people look for.
Number two, we need bold ideas. And not just quoting the thing of [unintelligible], I mean bold, actionable ideas. Ideas like Donald Trump ran on. Like build the wall, protect our southern border, reduce legal immigration, restrict HB1 [sic] visas, because in restricting HB1 visas the Hispanic and black kids can get into engineering schools and then they can go to Silicon Valley and work because they are citizens of the United States of America.
This populist, nationalist, conservative coalition if we hold together... And why is populism so important? Populism is going to force decision-making down to the people. It's going to have more policies that directly related to the people's benefit. That the elites themselves are not going to garner all the advantages of it.
Why nationalism? I can tell you why. The Chinese are very nationalistic. It worked for them. We have to stop worrying about these global institutions, right? That America is just one part of, and that we spend all out tax dollars and our muscle of our children to defend and propagate. No, the rules-based international order has worked for everybody but the United States of America. It's going to have to be totally rethought.
In doing that and taking on these global elites we are going to have to also worry about the lords of technology in Silicon Valley. One thing that we are going to have to focus on — and this is going to be your primary responsibility, and hopefully when certain individuals are governor. But you've got a very dangerous thing going on in this state.
California is to Donald Trump as South Carolina was to Andrew Jackson. Back in the 1830s the folks in South Carolina didn't like the fact that Jackson, a populist, and Congress had put on tariffs, federal tariffs, on product. And they decided that in South Carolina they weren't going to have those tariffs, and they were independent and they could do what they want. They could choose what federal laws they wanted to have and not have.
And General Jackson said that if they can pick and choose what laws they want, eventually they are going to split off and try to try to form a Southern Confederacy, said this like in 1832. So Jackson passed another law and powered the U.S. Army. He was going to send the Army into South Carolina. And he told somebody, “And if I have to, I'm going to hang John C. Calhoun from a lamppost, but we are going to enforce federal law.”
You've nullified the sanctuary cities law in this state. In fact, you are a sanctuary state. And trust me, if you do not roll this back — and I'm talking about people in this room — 10 or 15 years from now the folks in Silicon Valley and the progressive left in this state are going to try to secede from the union.
Now my hometown is Richmond, Virginia. My hometown was burned to the ground in April 1865. And in hindsight, it was burned to the ground for a pretty good reason.
We thought the secession issue was settled 150 years ago and it's going to be a living problem here in California. But here’s the good news: It's always darkest before the dawn.
It looks like now it is impossible to do anything in California. Demographics against you. The media is against you. The culture is against you. It couldn’t be farther from the truth.
You've got everything you need to win. You’ve got authentic people. You've got big ideas. And you have a grassroots, you have the muscle. The third part you need is commitment.
You know who showed us how to do this? Two guys:
By the way,
You may not like Obama's policies, but a heck of a politician. Axelrod ran him in 2008 as a populist with limited experience. Used the experience, the lack of experience, as a benefit. And what he did, he put together a grassroots army. That's exactly what we’re trying to do in 2017 and 2018 on this revolt against Republican establishment.
If you see the candidates coming up, they are all authentic. The Nicholson in Wisconsin, Morrisey in West Virginia, Rosendale in Montana, Dr. Kelli Ward in Arizona, Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee. And they've got big ideas. Do you know what the ideas are? Hey, maybe I'm going to support Donald Trump's agenda.
And we’re putting together a grassroots army. A grassroots army that is going to go door to door. That shows that we don't need to raise hundreds and millions of dollars. So the Karl Roves of the world don't buy TV time on attack ads. I apologize, I wasn't going to mention Karl Rove's name today even though in Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal he wrote a very, you know, I won't say nasty, but a very unfriendly editorial yesterday. I don't like punching down, so I’m not going to say anything about Karl Rove.
The future of the state is in your hands and I mean that. You've got Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine tonight. I recommend everybody go online and read it. It’s one of the most liberal magazines out there. Incredibly well-written, though, very insightful. I read it all the time. It has great insights, great writers. Very left wing, very progressive. Andrew Sullivan is a former conservative, though, writes for them. He worked through the whole immigration issue and said that the left has overplayed their hand. And they’ve given the Republicans and the conservatives the one weapon they need to destroy them.
You have that in your hands. Everything you need to win, you have. You have great candidates, you’ve got big bold ideas — actionable ideas — and you can put together a grassroots army. Hasn't happened in California to date, but you can do it — and you are going to have to do it.
This is the great Fourth Turning in American history. We've had the Revolution, the Civil War, Great Depression, World War II and now we've got what we are in today. And history, when they look back a couple of hundred of years, they'll say, “Did it start with 9/11, or did it start with the financial crisis or did it start with election of Donald Trump?” We don’t know that yet. We don't know really what triggered this turning, OK?
But I'll tell you, the next five, 10, 15, 20, 25 years, we’re going to be, this country is going to come through this, and it's going to be one thing or the other. It's either going to be the country that was bequeathed to us by the previous what, 12 or 13 generations? Or it's going to be something totally different.
Now what it is is going to depend 100% upon you. You can't look to Trump or Mark Meadows or Ted Cruz or Laura Ingraham or Sean Hannity or Steve Bannon. Look at yourselves. Because if you don't put your shoulder to the wheel, if you don't hold yourself accountable, it's not going to happen.
I would love to come up here and say, “Hey, it's all going to be sunny skies, it's all going to be great.” It's not. We got a tough slog ahead of us.
Everybody thought on the morning of the ninth when you woke up that it was all going to be great. Donald Trump is the president of the United States. We control the Senate and the House.
Look what's happened in the last eight months. Folks in Alabama thought the other day same thing when Judge Moore wins, it's all going to be sunlit uplands. It's not going to happen. It's not going to happen.
The permanent political class that controls this country and then the progressive Democrats on the other side of that are not just going to sit there and give you your country back. You're going to have to take it back. (audience applauds and cheers) And you're going to have to take it back by fighting for it.
So tonight, when you say your prayers, and you pray for your country and you pray for president Trump and his family, you pray for his troops, offer one other little prayer — and that is for yourselves. That 100 years from now when they look back, they will look at you and you and you and you and you and you folks back there, and that when your country needed you, your state needed you, your community needed you, you stood up and answered the call.
Lao Tzu is a Chinese philosopher about 2,500 years ago. He said, “That leader is best when his work is done, his objective achieved. The people turn and say, ‘Look what we have accomplished ourselves.’”
(Audience applauds and cheers)