Democrats spent years turning George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove into a bogeyman whose mere mention sent liberals’ blood boiling. Now, members of Congress are doing the same to top Trump hand Steve Bannon — but in much darker terms.
Increasingly, Democratic lawmakers are labeling the former Breitbart chief a “white supremacist” who has no business at the highest echelons of American power.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) used the term Thursday, and several Democratic members quickly grabbed the baton. It’s a sharp escalation in rhetoric that coincides with Bannon’s outsized influence in the early days of the Trump White House. And those same members are casting Bannon as a shadow president.
“It is bad enough that the president has put someone who is a pure partisan who’s clearly the puppeteer here, and the president is the marionette,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesman, described Bannon’s influence as “Karl Rove on steroids.”
Republican operatives say that branding Bannon as a racist mastermind of White House decisions may fire up liberals in the short-term. But it’s both incorrect and certain to backfire with the voters Democrats need to bring back into their fold, they add.
“My guess is, the more the Democrats and news media go after Steve Bannon, the more powerful he becomes within the administration, and the more endearing he becomes to Donald Trump,” said John Brabender, a Pennsylvnaia-based GOP strategist.