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Bannon Talks Trump Movement With Richmond Times-Dispatch

New WH Counselor gives hour-long interview from Trump Tower touching on Trump movement, alt-right, and Richmond roots.

Steve Bannon

In an hourlong interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, incoming White House counselor Steve Bannon talked about the personal motivations driving his “rage against a system he now describes as ‘socialism for the wealthy,’” the future of the Trump movement, the alt-right, and his Richmond roots.

Bannon recounted that his rage against the system and what he describes as “socialism for the wealthy” began with the 2008 financial crisis and its impact on his own dad:

For Martin Bannon, a former telephone company lineman and splicer who worked his way into management without a college degree, the AT&T stock was sacrosanct. That all changed during the panicked days of the 2008 financial crisis. As the market plummeted, Bannon, who raised five children on Richmond’s North Side, cashed out the stock that held virtually his entire net worth. When Steve Bannon saw Wall Street’s recklessness hit home and the impact on his father, it fueled his rage against a system he now describes as “socialism for the wealthy,” where benefits accrue to those at the top while the downside is spread among the masses. As overleveraged financial institutions ran into trouble, Steve Bannon said, they wanted “the Marty Bannons of the world” to bail them out.

It was that rage that Bannon saw Donald Trump harness in 2016:

“I do believe that this populist movement that you saw Donald Trump take to the next level in 2016 started with the financial crash in 2008,” Bannon said. “Quite frankly, nobody’s been held accountable for that.”

At the end of the day, Bannon said, “[p]eople wanted change.” “And,” he added, “they wanted real change this time”:

When he was hired by the campaign in August, Bannon said he told Trump he had a “100 percent chance to win” if he could execute, because Trump had “completely articulated what the country’s problems were.” “People wanted change. And they wanted real change this time,” Bannon said. “All we needed to do was to focus on that message. And as I said, just give people permission to vote for you.’” Clinton, he said, was seen as the “guardian of an incompetent and corrupt status quo and elite.”

And now, Bannon recommends that Republicans run like Trump:

Asked if he had any advice for Republicans running for governor next year in Virginia, which will be closely watched as one of the first major electoral contests during Trump’s presidency, Bannon’s recommendation was simple: Run like Trump. “I think you run on the principles of Donald Trump, and you’ve got something that galvanized people,” Bannon said. “It’s pretty basic.”

Bannon also pushed back against Democrat criticisms of him and the conservative news platform Breitbart:

Many on the left are “thunderstruck by what hit ’em,” Bannon said, and are trying to strike back with “name-calling” and accusations of racism. “People are not going to buy this,” Bannon said. “The deplorables are not racist.” Trump can win support among African-Americans and Hispanics, he said, if the new administration can deliver on a “unifying message” of strong schools, safe streets and jobs. “And condemning any kind of form of racism or hatred that’s out there,” Bannon said.