In what serves as an appropriate denouement to Gabriel Sherman’s Vanity Fair profile of Steve Bannon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took a shot a clear shot at the ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon following Republican Roy Moore’s recent loss in the race for an Alabama senate seat. When asked at Friday’s press conference as to whether he blamed Bannon for Doug Jones’s special election victory, McConnell said the following:
“Well let me just say this: The political genius on display throwing away a seat in the reddest state in America is hard to ignore.”
Q: Do you blame Steve Bannon for Doug Jones being elected in Alabama?
Sen. McConnell: “Well let me just say this: The political genius on display throwing away a seat in the reddest state in America is hard to ignore.” pic.twitter.com/pmIpncuOwT
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 22, 2017
McConnell made similar remarks at an Axios-sponsored “News Shapers” event on Thursday evening where he refused to use Bannon’s name and just referred to him as “that element” who “has no impact on our ability to function in the Senate” and who the majority leader predicted will have no impact challenging establishment Republicans in the 2018 midterms.
As long as McConnell is pointing fingers over a lost Senate seat, this is a good time to mention that in the homestretch of the election, the Senate Majority Leader walked back his criticism of Moore, the Bannon-backed candidate who was accused by multiple women of preying on them when they were teens and he was an assistant district attorney in his ’30s. After allegations surfaced of Moore molesting a 14-year-old girl he picked up outside of a custody hearing, McConnell urged the former judge to “step aside” and let a more appropriate candidate run on behalf of the GOP. Just days before the election, however, McConnell gave Moore a passive endorsement by backing off his initial claims that Moore was unfit to hold office and passed the buck to the electorate.
“I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call.” McConnell said, after George Stephanopoulos asked him if should be in the Senate during a This Week appearance on December 3.
There really are no heroes in this story. Bannon publicly rallied on behalf of an unfit candidate and the GOP establishment backed down off the moral high ground once it became apparent that a Republican in a state Trump won by wide margin actually stood the chance of losing. It’s hard to say who fully owns Moore’s L, but plenty of people got their hands dirty in this mess, not just Bannon.