Dismissing sexual abuse allegations as a "setup" in Barnwell, Alabama, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Tuesday cast the accusations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore as a continuation of an Establishment conspiracy begun during the GOP primary.
Bannon, who returned to his old job of running Breitbart News after leaving the White House, told a crowd of fired-up supporters that Moore prevailed against the Establishment's hand-picked senator, Republican Luther Strange, despite getting outspent 16-1.
"But we hadn't seen anything yet, had we?" Bannon said. "They weren't going to sit back and accept that Judge Moore had won the primary, were they?"
Moore chose to return to the historic Oak Hollow Farm building. where he had appeared the week before his primary runoff victory in the race to pick the Republican nominee for the special election to finish the Senate term of Jeff Sessions, who left office to become attorney general.
Normally, the general election in deep-red Alabama would be almost an afterthought. But Moore already was controversial from his decades fighting for social conservative causes. Twice, those stands got him removed as chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
Then Moore got hit with allegations by four women who told The Washington Post that he pursued them romantically when they were teenagers and he was a 32-year-old prosecutor in Etowah County in the 1970s. One of the women, now 53, was 14 at the time -- making her below the age of consent.
Other women since have come forward to accuse Moore of behavior ranging from criminal to merely lurid.
The fallout knocked Moore's lead over Democrat Doug Jones down a few notches in the polls, although recent surveys suggest he has stabilized. On Tuesday, a week before Alabama voters decide, Moore echoed Bannon's cries of "fake news."
Moore vowed to go to Washington to help President Donald Trump, who broke with party leaders and the nominee after backing Strange in the primary.
"But here we are a year later [after Trump's election], and what happened?" Moore asked. "We still don't have a wall. We still have illegal aliens streaming over the border. We still have Obamacare."
To Moore, the explanation is obvious -- the president has a Republican leadership that only nominally supports him.
Sen. McConnell's wavering on Moore, Bannon told the packed barn, is exactly what is wrong with weak-willed globalists who run both parties in Washington.
"He fought both Republicans and Democrats and became the president of the United States," Moore said.
The Alabama race has twisted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) -- the personification of the Republican Establishment -- in knots. He backed Strange only to see him lose and then endorsed Moore. After the Post story, though, he withdrew his endorsement and called for him to drop out. Then he explored whether a prominent Alabama Republican might run a write-in campaign.
But in an appearance on LifeZette co-founder Laura Ingraham's Fox News show, "The Ingraham Angle," he appeared to soften his opposition, saying the voters of Alabama should decide. Then on Tuesday, he insisted to reporters his views have remained consistent.
"There's been no change of heart. I had hoped earlier he would withdraw as a candidate," he said. "That obviously's not gonna happen. If he were to be elected, he would immediately have an Ethics Committee case, and the committee would take a look at the situation and give us advice."
That, Bannon told the packed barn, is exactly what is wrong with weak-willed globalists who run both parties in Washington.
"They want to take your voice away," he said.
Organizers had billed Bannon's speech as a fiery address to the base. There was a touch of sound and fury, but mostly Bannon just mocked his opponents.
He almost laughed at Sen. Jeff Flake, the retiring Arizona Republican who has been a Trump antagonist since the 2016 campaign and who on Tuesday made a point to tweet a picture of the $100 check that he donated to the Jones campaign with the caption, "Country over party."
Bannon ridiculed the amount: "If you're going to write a check, write a check. Are you kidding me?"
Bannon mocked another Never-Trump Republican, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who this week said Moore's election would be a "stain" on the party. The mere mention of Romney's name sparked a chorus of boos from a roomful of Republicans in a state Romney carried by 22 percentage points just five years ago.
Bannon mocked Romney for "hiding" behind his Mormon religion, spending part of the Vietnam War as a missionary in France while people were dying in rice paddies.
"Don't talk to me about honor and integrity," he said.
Bannon did not even have to tell the crowd about his next target. Audience members shouted McConnell's name before he even uttered it. He ridiculed McConnell for the "Leader McConnell" title he goes by in Washington.
The only reason McConnell has that title, Bannon said, is that Trump's coattails pulled several vulnerable Republican senators to re-election victories.
"Mitch, you owe your job to Donald J. Trump," he said.
A pair of protesters yelling "No Moore" interrupted the rally. And a couple of dozen demonstrators held signs at the entrance to the property, just south of the upscale town of Fairhope along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay.
Inside, Moore had his audience on its feet, promising to take the same values he has fought for over the past four decades to decadent Washington.
"And I'm gonna tell you, I can't wait," he said.