Former White House strategist Steve Bannon told CNN Tuesday he is going to campaign for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore at a rally in the state next week, making a strong show of support for the embattled Republican a week before the special election.
The announcement came hours after The Associated Press reported that Bannon, who had not campaigned for Moore since days before the Sept. 26 Republican runoff, had no plans to campaign for Moore.
Two Bannon associates had told The Associated Press that Bannon was not planning to return to Alabama before the Dec. 12 election. The associates spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. But Bannon told CNN later, “I look forward to standing with Judge Moore and all of the Alabama ‘deplorables’ in the fight to elect him to the United States Senate and send shockwaves to the political and media elites.”
Bannon uses “deplorables” as a term of endearment for supporters of President Donald Trump. During the 2016 campaign, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton once described some of Trump’s supporters as “a basket of deplorables.”
A person close to Bannon confirmed to The Associated Press the former Trump strategist’s plan to campaign for Moore. That person insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Moore’s campaign is the opening battle in what Bannon has described as his war on the Republican establishment.
Bannon has been absent from Alabama since the primary, though he had dispatched a team of reporters with the conservative news network he runs, Breitbart News.
Bannon’s decision to visit comes on the heels of the White House announcement Monday that Trump does not plan to campaign for Moore, a former state Supreme Court judge who appeared headed to easy victory until decades-old allegations he preyed on teenage girls as a man in his 30s emerged.
Bannon said shortly after the first allegations came to light came to light two weeks ago, “Until I see additional evidence on Judge Moore, I’m standing with him.”
That was before a chorus of calls from Republicans in Congress and around the country – most notably Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – calling on Moore to step down.