Steve Bannon recruited Jeff Sessions to run as anti-immigrant candidate before backing Trump: report
Prior to becoming an adviser and Svengali to President Donald Trump, Breitbart executive Steven Bannon went in search of a presidential candidate who would push his white nationalist, anti-immigration platform — even if that candidate didn’t stand a chance of winning.
That was when he met Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, who currently serves as Trump’s attorney general..
According to a report in New York Times Magazine, in 2013 Bannon invited Sessions and his close aide, Stephen Miller, to his D.C. townhouse for dinner and to talk politics.
Bannon had become intrigued by an article he read at Real Clear Politics, entitled, “The Case of the Missing White Voters,” that attributed Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama to the fact that whites who voted in the 2008 election stayed away in droves in 2012. According to author Sean Trende, those white voters disliked Obama but also were put off by Romney’s wealth and elitism.
According Bannon, those voters could be brought back to the polls by playing on both anger at jobs disappearing overseas and by scapegoating immigrants to the U.S. who were accused of stealing jobs from Americans.
According to the New York Times article, the dinner with Sessions was no fluke after the Alabama Senator made the case to his colleagues that the GOP should give up chasing after Latino votes and instead emphasize reducing the number of immigrants coming into the country and beefing up border security as a way to save working-class jobs.
Later in the dinner, Bannon made his pitch to Sessions: “We have to run you for president.”
In an interview Bannon remembered telling Sessions, “You’re not going to win” the general election, but added an anti-immigrant campaign would push the buttons of white working-class voters the Republicans needed if they wanted to regain the White House.
“You can get the Republican nomination. And once you control the apparatus, you can make fundamental changes. Trade is number 100 on the party’s list. You can make it number one. Immigration is number 10, we can make it number two,” Bannon claims he told Sessions.
Sessions demurred, saying he wasn’t the candidate Bannon was looking for, which sent the Breitbart exec off on a quest to find the right man for the job, which, in turn, was how Bannon eventually aligned himself with then-businessman, now-President Donald Trump.
You can read the whole report here.