Nov 13, 2017

Bannon v. McConnell over Roy Moore

Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu, J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Steve Bannon has dispatched Breitbart reporters to Alabama with a mission to discredit Roy Moore's accusers, just as Mitch McConnell has been stepping up his efforts to force Moore from the race. The Bannon vs. McConnell feud has been heating up ever since Bannon left the White House, and he said last week that he hopes to help force McConnell out as Majority Leader within a next year.

Be smart: Alabama is likely the first of many Bannon v. McConnell proxy wars. Bannon plans to use Breitbart's platform and his alliance with billionaire donor Robert Mercer to challenge Republican incumbents in 2018. This isn't about right vs. left for Bannon, it's about dismantling the "political establishment."

  • In August, shortly after leaving the White House, Bannon told The Economist, "I'm going to light him up," in reference to McConnell.
  • Bannon has since started a Civil War within the GOP centered on 2018 elections by backing opposition candidates to Republican incumbents. Bannon requires potential candidates to promise public opposition to McConnell. It's become a litmus test for his support. (More on that.)
  • Early last month, a former McConnell aide called Bannon a white supremacist, which Bannon backers used to fuel antagonism toward the Majority Leader.
  • The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with McConnell, announced plans to fight back against Bannon's 2018 efforts, attacking him personally and spending millions of dollars on traditional GOP candidates.
  • Earlier this month, Mercer — who has been a significant funder for Bannon and Breitbart's war against McConnell — released a statement saying that he does not always agree with him.
  • Bannon told the New York Times last week, "I have an objective that Mitch McConnell will not be majority leader, and I believe will be done before this time next year."
  • Breitbart reporters Matt Boyle and Aaron Klein went to Alabama to discredit sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore, and Axios' Jonathan Swan wrote yesterday, "I expect more counter-attacks will play out in Breitbart News and other outlets over the coming days."
  • Today, McConnell called for Moore to step down, saying, "I believe the women."
  • Recent Breitbart headlines: "Mitch McConnell Folds Under Populist Pressure, Extends Senate Workweek" "Mitch McConnell Leads Establishment Republicans in Effort to Push Roy Moore Out of Alabama Race" "Swamp Triggered as Steve Bannon Eyes 2018 Coalition to Challenge Establishment Lawmakers" "Steve Bannon Slams McConnell's 'Outrageous' Lack of Support for Trump Agenda" "Quin Hillyer: Mitch McConnell Helped Create Mess in Alabama"

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Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters

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The Biden campaign announced two new policies on Thursday on health care and student debt that are squarely aimed at appealing to supporters of Bernie Sanders, who ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The policies don't go as far as Sanders' platform, but they signal that Biden is serious about incorporating elements of his former rival's agenda in an effort to help unify the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump in the general election.

Reports: Saudi Arabia and Russia reach major deal to cut oil production

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OPEC+, led by mega-producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, reached a tentative agreement Thursday to impose large cuts in oil production as the coronavirus pandemic fuels an unprecedented collapse in demand, per Bloomberg and Reuters.

Why it matters: The revival of the OPEC+ collaboration patches up the early March rupture between the countries, which had pushed already depressed prices down much further by threatening to unleash even more new supplies into the saturated market.