ANAHEIM, Calif. — Steve Bannon delivered a blistering attack on former President George W. Bush during an address at the California GOP Convention Friday night, questioning his intelligence and whether the former President understood the speech that he delivered this week.
“He has no earthly idea of whether he’s coming or going,” Bannon said, suggesting that Bush had merely delivered a speech written for him by a speechwriter. “It’s clear he had no idea what he was talking about… just like it was when he was President of the United States.”
“There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s,” Bannon said.
Bush delivered a speech in New York this week sharply criticizing the kind of populist nationalism that President Trump and his former top strategist have espoused. Without mentioning the President, Bush decried the trade protectionism and how the political discourse had devolved into “conspiracy theories” and “outright fabrication.”
On Friday night in Anaheim at the California GOP gathering, the reaction within the audience to Bannon’s scathing criticism of the former President was mixed. There was scattered applause and some shouts of support. Some booed loudly at the mention of Bush’s name. But many in the audience were silent.
In the middle of his musings on the former President, Bannon apologized “in advance” to the Bush people in the audience. But then, perhaps reading his audience, Bannon swiftly moved on to other topics.
Later Bannon briefly mentioned Bush’s chief strategist, Karl Rove, who wrote what he called a “very unfriendly” piece about Bannon in the Wall Street Journal.
But Bannon said he didn’t mean to say Rove’s name: “I don’t like punching down,” he said of Rove, “so I’m not going to say anything.