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White nationalists see advocate in Steve Bannon who will hold Trump to his campaign promises

Story highlights
  • White nationalists say Bannon's hiring is a signal that Trump will follow through on some of his more controversial policy positions.
  • "I think that's excellent," former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke told CNN's KFile.

(CNN) White nationalist leaders are praising Donald Trump's decision to name former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, telling CNN in interviews they view Bannon as an advocate in the White House for policies they favor.

The leaders of the white nationalist and so-called "alt-right" movement — all of whom vehemently oppose multiculturalism and share the belief in the supremacy of the white race and Western civilization — publicly backed Trump during his campaign for his hardline positions on Mexican immigration, Muslims, and refugee resettlement. Trump has at times disavowed their support. Bannon's hiring, they say, is a signal that Trump will follow through on some of his more controversial policy positions.

"I think that's excellent," former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke told CNN's KFile. "I think that anyone that helps complete the program and the policies that President-elect Trump has developed during the campaign is a very good thing, obviously. So it's good to see that he's sticking to the issues and the ideas that he proposed as a candidate. Now he's president-elect and he's sticking to it and he's reaffirming those issues."

Duke, who last week lost his longshot bid for the US Senate seat from Louisiana, said he plans on expanding his radio show and is hoping to launch a 24 hour online news show with a similar approach to Comedy Central's Daily Show. He argued Bannon's position was among the most important in the White House.

"You have an individual, Mr. Bannon, who's basically creating the ideological aspects of where we're going," added Duke. "And ideology ultimately is the most important aspect of any government."

Bannon, who was a Navy officer and Goldman Sachs investment banker years before taking over Breitbart, has called the site "the platform for the alt-right." Under Bannon, Breitbart has taken an increasingly hardline tone on issues such as terrorism and immigration, running a headline after the Paris attacks of November 2015 saying, "Paris Streets Turned Into Warzone By Violent Migrants." It also ran a headline in May 2016 calling anti-Trump, neoconservative commentator Bill Kristol a "Renegade Jew."

Bannon himself was accused of anti-Semitism by his ex-wife, who alleged in a 2007 court declaration that he did not want their daughter to attend a Los Angeles school because of the numbers of Jews who went to school there. (Bannon, through a spokesperson, denied his wife's accusations.)

Peter Brimelow, who runs the white nationalist site VDARE, praised Bannon's hiring, saying it gives Trump a connection to the alt-right movement online.

"I think it's amazing," Brimelow said of Trump's decision to tap Bannon. "Can you imagine Mitt Romney doing this? It's almost like Trump cares about ideas! Especially amazing because I would bet Trump doesn't read online. Few plutocrats do, they have efficient secretaries."

Brimelow added his site would continue to focus solely on their hardline position on immigration, saying he expects American whites to vote their interests similar to other minority groups.

"To the extent that the 'alt-right' articulates that interest, it will continue to grow," Brimelow said.

Brad Griffin, a blogger who runs the white nationalist website Occidental Dissent using the pseudonym "Hunter Wallace," said he thought Bannon's hiring showed Trump would be held to his campaign promises.

"It makes sense to me," he said. "Reince [Priebus] can certainly get more done on Capitol Hill. He will be an instrument of Trump's will, not the other way around. Bannon is better suited as chief strategist and looking at the big picture. I think he will hold Trump to the promises he has already made during the campaign. We endorse many of those promises like building the wall, deportations, ending refugee resettlement, preserving the Second Amendment, etc. There's a lot of stuff in there on which almost everyone on the right agrees."

Griffin added, "We're most excited though about the foreign policy implications of Bannon in the White House. We want to see our counterparts in Europe — starting in Austria and France — win their upcoming elections. We're hearing reports that Breitbart is expanding its operations in continental Europe and that is where our focus will be in 2017."

Jared Taylor, who runs the site American Renaissance, echoed those comments, saying Bannon would help hold Trump to his campaign rhetoric.

"There has been some waffling on some of candidate Trump's signature positions: build the wall, deport illegals, end birth-right citizenship, take a hard look at Muslim immigrants, etc," he said. "I suspect one of Steve Bannon's important functions will be as an anti-waffler, who will encourage President Trump to keep his campaign promises."

Chairman of the American Nazi Party, Rocky J. Suhayda, who wrote a post after Trump's election night victory celebrating it as a call to action, said he was surprised at the pick of Bannon, but said it showed him Trump could follow through on his campaign promises.

"I must admit that I was a wee bit surprised that Mr. Trump finally chose Mr. Bannon, I thought that his stable of Washington insiders would have objected too vociferously," Suhayda wrote in an email. "Perhaps The Donald IS for 'REAL' and is not going to be another controlled puppet directed by the usual 'Wire Pullers,' and does indeed intend to ROCK the BOAT? Time will tell."

Richard B. Spencer, the president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute, wrote a series of tweets on Sunday evening saying Bannon had the best position as chief strategist, allowing him to not get lost in the weeds and could help Trump focus on the big picture of setting up his agenda.

"Steve Bannon might even push Trump in the right direction. So that would be a wonderful thing," he told CNN on Sunday before the announcement, adding that he hopes to push Trump in an increasingly radical direction."

Matt Parrott, a spokesman for the Traditionalist Worker Party, said Bannon was a "civic nationalist" — someone who sees an American identity not based on race.

"Steve Bannon has never been a white nationalist and it's kind of tiresome how the important distinction, everyone needs to learn them now that they're relevant. There's an important distinction between a civic nationalist and a white nationalist," Parrott to CNN. "Steve Bannon's entire career, and if you look at Breitbart, like, he's accusing the other side of racism. That's something that wouldn't happen out of an actual white nationalist of course because we don't see being for your race as a negative thing. Yeah, Steve Bannon's a civic nationalist and that's much better than what was in Washington before. We're hopeful about the whole thing."

Parrot added, "We in the alt-right are going to be just as vicious in trolling and attacking the Republican Congress as they try to obstruct Trump's reforms as we were against the left."