Our friend Josh Green has a report out this morning about the resurrection of Roy Moore’s candidacy. Remember that only a few weeks ago Republicans were so determined to end Moore’s campaign that they were seriously debating canceling the election and trying other ploys to prevent Moore from entering the Senate no matter what. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow night. But Josh is right that the tide has turned dramatically. The President is full-force endorsing. The RNC is back in formal support. Fox News is maniacally on board.
What was the turning point? As Josh explains the real moment came in those two or three days in which Sean Hannity appeared to make a weak defense of Moore and then came back a day later giving him a 24 ultimatum to clear his name or drop out of the race. Clearly, in the nature of things, there was no way Moore could prove his innocence in 24 hours. Even if we posit the unlikely scenario that he was, in fact, innocent of the accusations against him, it would still be impossible. What made Hannity’s demand so potent, in addition to his role as chief alligator of the GOP fever swamp, is the perception (seemingly accurate) that he speaks for President Trump and President Trump speaks for him. It was apparently Bannon who interceded with Hannity to lift his ultimatum.
From Josh’s piece …
Even so, Bannon was most alarmed by Hannity’s ultimatum to Moore and moved to intervene, according to three people familiar with his actions. Along with Breitbart’s Washington editor, Matthew Boyle, he besieged the Fox News host with phone calls and texts. Bannon, who recently told the New York Times that Hannity is “the single most important voice for the ‘deplorables’” — his term for Trump supporters — asked the Fox host not to call on Moore to withdraw and instead to let Alabama voters decide, said people familiar with Bannon’s activities.
That was a key moment. No doubt it was Bannon – still in regular communication with the President, despite his nominal firing – who cajoled Trump into going back to full-scale support. Even the President’s last-minute pro-Moore rally is an example of how rapidly he was moving from implicit to pained to 100% support for Moore. The President’s rally was in Pensacola. That is in Florida of course. But it’s part of the same media market as Mobile, Alabama, essentially a Florida salient into the state of Alabama. Had they been planning the event on say … Saturday rather than earlier in the week, it’s hard to believe they would have gone to the trouble of keeping the event technically outside of the state. By this weekend Trump was all in.
Again, we see that Bannon is the preeminent, most successful strategist and foot soldier of all the poison that is assembled under the banner of Trumpism. Not terribly well-known, it was Bannon and then-Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz who led the charge in attempting to discredit the wave of harassment accusers who seemed certain to derail Trump’s campaign in October 2016. He is also the one in the background pushing the increasingly virulent calls emanating out of Fox News to fire Bob Mueller and lead some kind of purge of the FBI to protect the President. Bannon remains a critical player so long as Trump remains President and Fox News is the news source of choice for Republicans.