Bannon Says Republicans Still Have a Shot at Keeping the House

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s former political strategist said next month’s congressional elections will be a referendum on the president and that Republicans can still hang on to a slender House majority with the GOP base energized by the bitter confirmation fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“I’ve called this now for many months to be his first re-elect,” Steve Bannon told Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait at the Bloomberg Invest London forum. “There’s a very narrow gate you have to go through but it’s doable. The Kavanaugh hearings gave us traction for the first time to try to, against all odds just like in ’16, to try to close strong and try to save it by a seat or two.”

There are more than 60 Republican-held House districts in play in the Nov. 6 elections, and independent analysts, polls and fundraising indicate Democrats are well positioned to gain at least the 23 seats they’d need to take control of the House.

Bannon, who was also chief executive officer of the Trump campaign during its final months in 2016, acknowledged that Democrats will make gains in the House -- about 20 seats at minimum, he said -- but added that he can see Republicans winning just enough seats to block Democrats from getting a majority.

Trump and Republican strategists have argued for the past week that the GOP is benefiting from the backlash to Democrats’ efforts to slow Kavanaugh’s confirmation as well as the divisive debate about the sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him. Bannon, who left the White House in August 2017, offered the same view.

"The Kavanaugh moment for the first time woke the Republicans up to the fact of, look at what the future is going to be like. The Kavanaugh hearings is the future of our government if they take control of the House," he said. "We’ve seen what the future’s like. The mobocracy, this kind of mob rule.”

Ultimately, he said, the confirmation fight was "a proxy on Trump’s presidency, it had to go through -- it was all or nothing."

Impeachment Threat

He also repeated what has become a rallying cry used by Trump and other Republicans: that Democrats would begin impeachment proceedings against the president if they get control of the House.

“If he loses the House of Representatives he will be impeached, they will bring impeachment hearings immediately,” Bannon said. “So it’s imperative that we keep the House.”

While there is a faction of Democrats who’ve urged that the president be impeached, the party’s leaders have called such talk premature before the special counsel’s investigation of Trump’s campaign is completed. It would take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to convict the president, and Republicans may retain their majority in the chamber after the November election.

Though he disagrees with the anti-Trump resistance and left-leaning groups, Bannon offered them some praise. "I admire their hustle and their grit" as they knock on doors and organize, he said.

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