Politics

Rollins: Bannon Made Trump President

Former Reagan campaign director laments attacks 'without a bit evidence' against top Trump strategist

The architect of Ronald Reagan’s 49-state landslide in 1984 said Thursday that Stephen Bannon, more than anyone else, is responsible for President-Elect Donald Trump’s upset election victory last month.

Ed Rollins, co-chairman of the pro-Trump Great America PAC, said on the “The Laura Ingraham Show” that campaign manager Kellyanne Conway did a great job as a visible spokeswoman for Trump. But it was Bannon, Rollins said, who laid out the strategy behind the scenes.

“It was really Bannon who made it all happen. Obviously, he’s a guy I would always want in the trenches with me.”

“It was really Bannon who made it all happen,” he said. “Obviously, he’s a guy I would always want in the trenches with me.”

Bannon, who took a leave of absence as the top executive at Breitbart News to run Trump’s campaign after the departure of campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, has become a lightning rod of criticism since the president-elect named him White House chief strategist. Opponents have lobbed all manner of unsupported accusations at Bannon, including charges of white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and other bigotry.

“I’m a big Steve Bannon fan,” Rollins said. “I think he’s tremendous. I think what they have done to him is outrageous — absolutely outrageous — without a bit of evidence … They can’t get to Trump today, but they’re sure gonna try to beat up on the people” that he appoints.

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Overall, Rollins said, Trump has done a fantastic job assembling a team of advisers, defying pre-election predictions that even if he won, he would never be able to persuade quality people to join the administration.

“This is as distinguished a Cabinet as anyone has seen in modern time,” he said. “The choices are fabulous.”

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But Rollins sounded a note of caution about one of the biggest prizes — secretary of state. He said the roster of candidates Trump has considered for America’s top diplomat “certainly has been a distinguished cast of characters.” But he said he hopes Trump passes on 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“I would be disappointed if he appointed Romney,” he said. “I think the disloyalty that he showed in being the leader of the anti-Trump PAC was just above and beyond the call. He could have kept his mouth shut. He could have stayed in Boston. or wherever one of the houses he lives in now. He was very, very vocal and sort of led the anti-Trump brigade.”

Rollins said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani would be better choices. They were among Trump’s earliest prominent supporters.

“They need to be rewarded,” he said.

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