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tv   After Words Keith Koffler Bannon  CSPAN  December 17, 2017 9:00pm-10:01pm EST

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>> steve bannon is interviewed by me gomer of texas. >> hello, i'm thrilled to be here today with keith, author of abandon, always the rebel. and it's great to have you here on c-span.
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this is really a book, i thoroughly enjoyed it this weekend. i was broken and since most conservative writers equaling conservatives in general life and having a wikipedia phase that makes him a little bit crazy i was pleased i guess to see that you don't have a wikipedia page most conservatives like me, you can go through either and read your wikipedia page and say this is a bunch of garbage, no thrilled to have you on. i was thrilled to have you. but we do want to have you both the radar your work at white
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house really exposing similar things going on the last several years in the white house and on through today, that's continuing to be a passion appears. >> the white house tessier something i started in 2010. i had been a mainstreamed reporter for many years. in fact i was so good at hiding my political sympathies and nobody except maybe a close friends of the media i was a conservative. >> host: maybe that's why you don't have a wikipedia page. >> and i'm thankful for that. also because i didn't have to put my age on there. in addition to whatever else. i was so successful that i was once offered a job and was
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yelled at by fleischer for asking questions that i never would've asked, what little did i realize that i probably agreed with everything they were saying. something both of us know is much less so. in 2010 i started this and the idea was to do accountability in president obama and i'm credited with the white house payless a reporter and all through most of the presidency eight held him to standards and pointed out things both objectively and from a conservative standpoint. today with president trump, sometimes insane way to second, what are you doing here. but also say that the media may
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be treating him unfairly for certain respects. amount still continues. >> and sometimes people do take offense that it seems to be a hostile question when one of the most trial lawyers i learned so much from him in a three day seminar he was selecting a jury and you get an answer you don't like something you have to jump across and shake his hand. that guy has now given you a chance to explain something that struggling people. so, unfortunately you seen it, similar times today people ask questions and they're not going to give you a chance to explain but i felt like you certainly
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gave been in a fair treatment in the book. like to get to the book, and you start off with the prologue as the rebel there you go through in your quotes from the family, who all in the family did you talk to? >> guest: attacked all of his siblings. he has two sisters and a younger sister that it's a very close-knit family. he goes home to richmond even with this crushing schedule at the white house and still now, they adored him. 95
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and now 96. i just saw him at an event somewhere. >> his status on top of things. >> he's as sharp as a whip. is able to remember little vignettes from the 40s about how he was drafted as a professional baseball player but it didn't pay like it does the other they opted to 75 trying to get them to, but he didn't report for 75 there hoping they would so they cut him. >> he and his son were joking that he was a holdout. back then, the country just came out of the depression and it was a more stable job to work with
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the phone company, that's where he ended up. potential lester's baseball career ended in infancy with this dad. >> you get into chapter two, chapter two seem to expose the guy that is getting into politics, tell us how he got going into politics. >> he was at virginia tech where he went to college and he was involved in a few things, eventually he decided to run for student body president. he wasn't the next in line, even the there is an establishment
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every organization there's a group and expected succession. so he was the rebel. the book is called i was the rebel but the fact about him is that his rebelliousness is always for something, is fighting for some particular cause. it's not a thoughtless rebel without a cause. they're trying to get the students more involved there were changes going on in virginia tech. he decided to challenge the orthodox and tried to represent the average man. one thing he did was show a bit of his political acumen early on and he put a woman on his ticket. to bed with him.
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that was done because they had worked together and respected each other enormously. today i spoke with her for the book and she speaks glowingly about him and said back then he was fighting for the same things he's fighting for now. they worked well together. the thing is virginia tech just recently had admitted women. there are more women in the electorate of the campus. that helped and he defeated and became student body president for his senior year. >> it sounds like is very much actively involved in issues quite influential in the things that she did. >> susan oliver said that as a woman she felt that he empowered her entirely and they read about
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that about how he let her do her thing, was not overbearing and had complete confidence. this was early 1970s, not a time went women are participating in a lot of student government. >> what i thought was interesting was steve bannon and trump as they both had successful marriages the president seems to be a very successful marriage now. and there i want to see the president last night and their melania was in the little kid said you look like an angel. but a lot of people take that with regard to bannon and the president, they must not be good in working with women because they've had failed marriages, it is a bit of a dichotomy there
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because both steve and the president seem to work very successfully with women. you've done the research and talk to the women he has worked with. from what you send the book he works with them well. did you find any women he worked closely with that he had problems and overall negative opinion. >> josé no, i did not see that. even today breitbart there's many women working on the staff. when he was in the white house i think is key a was julia, a conservative woman who work for him at paper brought into the white house and i think she's still there. i will say she's the brains behind then that she helped him
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a lot as a key assistant. he still close to his first wife, susie and one other times i spoke of the book was just the two of us that his first wife had been there with his daughter and i have been hanging out at washington is so forth, i just didn't pick up, he can be a rough guy and he'll admit this he has a bit of a temper, but i don't think it discriminates male or female, if anything this southern gentleman would refrain a little bit from fire in a way. >> somebody that's driven, always the rebel but, they seem
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to be much more forgiving forgiving but they will immediately tell you when they disagree and think you're on the wrong track. but he can be very blunt with me when we disagreed, but ten minutes later that's not supposed to be carried on because were moving on, or be on the. >> where people told me as it's not personal so much, it's about the job. he'll get very blunt accomplishd on. his/her high standards he works endlessly, there's one time when is trying to get touch they said
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try him at one in the morning because then he's easier to get. he doesn't sleep much, he works hard and he expects set of the people he would say like my kid is sick or, that's your problem. he can be tough and maybe unreasonably tough but he is. some of my communication three or four in the morning hundred that is something, they both work was that i was had a great rapport, in fact they never said
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a lot when andrew was around. he has opinions but surprisingly, i had an army scholarship, i was in the army for years, bannon finished and got his degree at virginia tech. he has no military commitment, he has some great potential offers coming because he did so well in student government and he goes and joins the navy. what was the purpose of that? >> that's a good question. his friends at virginia tech were surprised, his family said that he had an offer from philip philip morris they do a lot of
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things but it is different i had major off of their. what happened is they had been raised with a sense of duty, his parents were very traditional, fairly liberal old-style democrats. >> host: and that's probably the catholic background. this is the first catholic to have a great shot at being president. so, a lot of catholic families, whether republican or democrat is he's one of us. so did you get that feeling from the family? >> guest: while that sense of service. kennedy had been in the navy and kennedy was a big carol abandons some maybe there was some of that. but his father had wanted to be in the military and there was a
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small technical issue. he was unable to serve. there is a sense of fulfilling this mission to the country. i don't want to send to corny but that was a large part of his motivation, what his father wanted to the family. it's also a sense of adventure, he was a fighter when he was young. it did surprise a lot of people, but it fit with the way he was raised in 2008 we saw the worst of goldman sachs. on restraining greed come to the forefront. but this seems to be such a
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mutually exclusive person, here's a guy who would work for goldman sachs and has the reputation, i know too many people that set them, on the other hand he walks away from the and joins the navy, and. >> guest: he was in for six years. >> host: apparently he enjoyed the time and was reliable. there is a group he was part of that was supposed to help in emergencies come up with solutions. >> will he was in washington sr. people -- bannon's attitude is to do it now.
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his superiors could get out of line a little bit but he could get things done. when he was in washington there's a task force formed by the senior people to figure out a way through the bureaucracy to get things done. bannon was involved in that. >> per help that help draw bannon and trump back together again. >> similar personalities, do it now, sayed, sometimes trump might move too quickly but definitely a similar personali
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personality. >> host: chapter six talks about generation zero, can you explain that? what caused you to name it that? >> guest: generation zero was the name of a movie bannon did. it talked about the 2000 and crash. the idea was that the future was being robbed, americans given all of the wealth loss in the dead those being accumulated, the generation that exists now which is sort of the millennial's in younger people when you look at the deficit we will have nothing left. >> so where was he working in 2008 when the crash happened? >> when the crash happened he was still out in california doing his own business he left
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goldman sachs long time ago. he went out to california and was first out there to drum up business but then he formed his own firm. increasingly he got into documentaries and making his own filmmaking. initially made one about reagan in 2004. in 2008 he made other documentaries. what he wanted to chronicle was how the elite got off scott fr free. so the beginning of his political opposition to the establishment. >> and that was the head of goldman sachs, plenty of ties.
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he lets the lehman brothers go because he couldn't stand them. but hank paulson, he got into the moviemaking business. where did he get the title, generation zero? >> guest: we've been talking about generation x and y, this is the generation that may have nothing left if the debt continues to build and the economy meanders along. were seeing a revival. as you know there is a great parallel there that were $20 trillion in debt, when you look at.
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>> guest: i think it might've been part of at&t. he put his money away for years. traditional saving cool like a regular fellow. he had a little bit of money stuck away from retirement. he hoped one day to maybe pass that on and then all of a sudden the over lending that occurred,
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the prophet motive. >> host: you said it profoundly affected him and he saw his dad lose so much. >> guest: yes, he lost all this money. he felt like what happens to people like my dad while others run into hank paulson and say help me out and give me a break here. meanwhile, there's nobody to help someone like his dad. >> host: it's ironic to see all the comments from those antagonists abandon that he say he's about nothing but money, but you reach your book and start tracking his life, his life is not been all about money. you talk about a place he had on long island, he had a chair in a, and they call it sparta.
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>> guest: is funny, people see this as an inconsistency but he did go to goldman sachs and made himself a multimillionaire. part of that was growing up in a middle-class family. i asked him about that and he said the money give me the freedom to do the things they wanted.
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not someone who is terribly concerned about material possessions. not only is he all about money that he might be a white supremacist, that is not going back to college, it seems like he gave a lot of foreshadowing. he goes out when nobody was heaven women as a co- runner and the election, yet they are running mates i may be a little
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foreshadowing for his embrace of sarah palin. he could see such greatness. >> he wanted her to be president. heat she would be the one to stick to her guns. unlike you, so many people come saying one thing and maybe believing in them forget about it. once they're here they get caught up in special-interest. but what you're saying, in terms of people who talk to them personally, there is nobody i could find this said he was racist, anti-semitic. you've if you look at breitbart most of the senior leadership is jewish. it becomes difficult.
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>> host: and larry the great job but that's larry and breitbart. >> guest: and done race as well, this wasn't someone i interviewed but a liberal senior executive in hollywood named jeff came out set i work with van and for years. i have to say even if it hurts me out here in hollywood, the man is not a racist. the one charge people put against him is seal of the comment section breitbart to have too many people with white supremacist views. the way he viewed that is that
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is the comment section, he's not great to regulated, they do regulate it now. your go in there and it's a tough place. when you actually look at the stories, they don't have racist content to them. there's a new york times article in august that said breitbart is not the outright as it is perceived today. so on a personal level there is nobody i found the felt he was racist. his grew up as a liberal and his mother grew up as a liberal and several people said she was very vocal about african-american rights about a time when people that want to hear much about that.
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that was also part of the thinking and upbringing. >> some of us are greatly influenced by outspoken moms. i talk to people that think you get to washington a people bribing new. seems to be the most emasculating efforts come from something called being a team player. you're awesome, incredible, you're going to change the world. we need you to be a team player. and after a few years, i've been a team player, i was said we're going to do these things. when he finally pushed back in we misjudged you. but that seems more than threats, more than promises,
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that team player intimidation. it seems to have disengage somebody from the things they came here to do. hello steve sees that. in a humane economy, that was an interesting title for a chapter, but that's where it gets into his feelings and he sees how it affects everybody. skin color doesn't matter what people are getting her pain inhumane economy. it's deeply troubling to him. i think you had good quotes in there. as you and i were talking about
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asked about my reading that. >> discussed about caring for money, he wants to turn the republican party into a working-class party. he feels the democrats are beholden to identity politics. he thinks they could to give the worker class and bring them into the republican party. ironic because people criticize him. but a lot of his ideas he wants his focus not so much on corporate america those are the lobbyists here in washington, but protecting the middle class.
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his agenda is to go out and convince average working-class people the republicans have the best policy for them. he believes republicans need at least 30% of the african-american votes. sometimes he gets a little dramatic. that's his agenda, he said until we have the black working-class and hispanic working-class getting high value-added jobs we have failed as a society. citizens first. we don't leave you immigrants in this country are those that do not come with a set of skills.
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that's where his concern of immigration comes in. the first time you talk about limiting immigration your racist. his view is that you need to support people in this country without unlimited immigration. he's against the large number of people coming in taking jobs from those who are in the middle class whether they're black, hispanic, or white. >> host: candidate trump got an invitation to come to african-american churches and he seemed to be right at home. >> guest: he did.
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bannon does believe that trump believes things. if you talk to the press are democrats. thinks that trump shares his ideology, which is why there still very much alike. trump has been working with construction and he feels like he connects to average people because he's been on job sites and talks to people. so this idea that there's a white supremacist agenda is wrong. bannon was speaking an organization to attract black entrepreneurs into the republican party. this is the second time in the last few weeks he's address this group.
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republicans still going to african-american neighborhoods and give speeches and say here's why conservative principles will help you. bannon believes everybody wants the same thing, successful families and jobs, and that's where he thinks republican message needs to be. go into the poor neighborhoods and talk to people and say how has that welfare state time fee. how are things going? here's alternative. i think it's very poorly understood when people throughout the white supremacist label call everybody a racist. >> to have any other quotes.
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>> guest: up a lot of quotes in here it directly contradicts something we heard about obama say constantly. businesses were nation of citizens not a nation of immigrants. so now we have startac like citizens come first. policy should be oriented to making people in this country have a better shot at success. we brought a huge global competition for their jobs and schools. he is not denying -- that immigrants who come here become citizens he said i'm not a multiculturalists. people bring their cultures into the united states but it should
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be a melting pot not a mixing bowl of different cultures all over the place. >> clarence thomas recently said in this country we've lost -- we've lost our unit that's like the way you're describing steve. >> we need to assimilate the people. >> the tea party came along in 2009. what drew him to that initially? you have a chapter called tea party warrior. >> guest: he felt there is a washington consensus soberly establish republicans. the tea party was the vehicle first changing things and getting away from the policies
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and doing things like reversing obama care which was huge. he felt there was a revolution occurring at the base. >> he actually put the term tea party into a majority. one actually you see these groups and steve is in the middle of them. these are not racists, these are working people paying taxes and tired of caring much more than their low. he was instantly just part of it. >> guest: there very much his folks. he saw them as average
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working-class people, not only to implement conservatives but also to try to save the culture. these are people with traditional values that made the country great. breitbart and bannon also agreed on a notion that economic downstream from culture. that cultures what ultimately makes for hard-working industrial people, often people of faith who end up feeding this economy. one reason he is so focused on the middle class, he thinks unlike the elites of today, the middle class working-class embrace the traditional american ethic. teddy roosevelt was thinking
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store, joseph kennedy, lost a son of world war ii and the elites have this american ethic. he thinks it's change. >> did he persuade you? >> guest: i think he did. personally, i don't know if i've gone through all the statistics but when you look at people who graduate from these elite institutions there's not the same attendance at church or synagogue's it's more middle class working-class people. personally, that they've lost a lot of that. i tend to agree that these are
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the people who still embody the values we saw with the founders of the nation. these are the people who are not just looking at average people as commodities, they want to work a full day and leverage any amount of money they will can make. i tend to believe it's true. i from new york. i've lived in washington for a long time. the funny thing, when you go to the old virginia and talk to people who believe in the second amendment that are clinging to their god and guns, it's an easier conversation.
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there on the level nobody's trying to one up you. it would be more of a feeling i have. i do tend to agree. the middle class are the bearers of the culture and ethnic. >> guest: so much of the culture was from judeo-christian value and traditionally i did not realize the spiritual depth that steve had until i read your book. that's a big part of who he is. >> guest: in my research i talked to a friend of his and i asked what influenced him and he said you might want to start with the bible. and i said bannon?
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he said yes maybe more the new testament but he's tremendously influenced by. so i asked him and he discussed how his catholicism, they were not just sunday catholics, they were everyday catholics. that's what society was like there. it's affected him in a couple of ways. this concern for average people in the concern for your fellow man. as i reveal the book, he was a drinker at one point in his life. ashley since high school. he went to a catholic military high school. you know you like rated by how much her drinking. but he didn't say he was
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alcoholic. he said i didn't have a drinking problem but i didn't have a drinking solution either. but is about the mid- 1990s that he realized it was starting to affect his work and he tells a story of how he came home to watch his daughter play basketball and he had been working in europe. and they drink constantly in europe. he came back and took some red eye back to california from europe. there is a six pack in the refrigerator. he'd been having buddy mary's and champagne and he saw the sixpack and said well that's great. there's probably nothing else in the fridge. he said he drank five of them
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without way to second. he looked at himself in the mirror, he said even though i was 40 pounds lighter couldn't believe what i was saying. he looked at that last one and try get any that was his last one. he is told catholic task text tp right, they filter out other things in your life that are not meaningful and focusing on what's important on god and jesus. he said basically you pray. he got into a regimen that he does this very day that helps them with all the criticism and also helps keep him sober.
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i was surprised when i showed up at the breitbart embassy, just thought he give me a beer and hang out. i got an 8-ounce can of coke. there's a second interview where he opened up about that. in the role of catholicism and higher power. >> host: in your chapter bannon and breitbart, he really seems to get his love the way you describe it. when i think in that chapter best describes him up breitbart? >> i think he got a vehicle -- the documentaries will only reach so many people. >> host: initially he got into making movies.
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>> guest: on the tea party, and sarah palin, he made a documentary on her and he he made a documentary on tea party women. at breitbart after andrew breitbart tragically dies bannon added some of his business acumen to his ideological thinking in terms breitbart into a machine. there, he was able to do the news in a way that revealed the corruption of the elite. values that were important to him he expanded it to other countries and got a radio show.
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breitbart became a true love and something he was passionate about. it became ground zero of the populous nationalist movement that he has been leaving. [inaudible] >> guest: i wrote bannon is blunt. who could imagine. he said will never beat the democrats until we beat the real enemy, the establishment republicans. they stand for nothing. all they stand for his money and power. we can take that on and defeat it. that's what breitbart did. >> host: that's opposite the image, desiring money and yet he
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wants to defeat the money powers that be. >> in the political influence he feels never changes anything. he says we have welfare in this country for two people, the very poor, the very rich. it's not even the very poor, but a lot of people have some ford of government assistance. so that's what upsets him probably more than any money. >> guest: the middle class are the ones that get into a certain salary and don't qualify for things. >> host: so he ends up in the trump campaign being an advisor
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to donald trump. you have the chapter, the president strategist. it seems like him and kellyanne conway made a difference with the direction the trump campaign took after the republican convention. any insights that you got from him on trump? >> guest: let me see if there is a quote in here that i may have more on trump. this is on trumps isolationism which i cork into. basically he emphasized trump train the campaign to stay on
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message. he said you are the message of change. stick to national populous message. the court i have, one of the misconceptions of trumps is that he's isolationist. which is not. bannon is not either. they're more concerned about international trade deals that subvert u.s. law and also end up helping policies like those of china and harming the middle and working class by exploiting our jobs overseas. the trump was in saudi arabia trying to arrange an alliance of arab states against iran. this a lot he does internationally sabbatical from
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bannon's, he says people understand that trumps america's first ideology. night ice not isolationism. it's a false thing to say he's isolationist. he's anything but. what he's not as a globalist. he will not let the power of the united states be dissipated out. nobody has gone and engaged in the islamic community as trump did in may of 2017. he told the leaders they had to take the lead in combating islamist. were he does believe is would national security interests are threatened. not just leading from behind in
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overthrowing qaddafi olivia. this is where they are truly threatened, that's where. >> i was surprised republican u.s. trade representative told me to see like we got a very good deal is that you have to understand where the biggest economy in the world, anything that helps other countries will eventually help us. i didn't really buy that at the time. it is very clear that him and president trump don't buy that either. there are bad deals for america where we lose i think some of the recent thinking about nafta has some pleasant minuses.
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for bannon it's ultimately like are you going to have a manufacturing sector. >> those who think it's an evolving process as it seems what stephen and president trump understands if you can't manufacture what you needed more you will be empower. >> in that excesses back to the founders. what bannon is talking about is is very widely read a knowledgeable they believe that we needed to support manufacturing to oppose the british of it through world war
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ii a lot of the country was fairly protective of its industries and prospered before. because of it. they believe this american system they to be reinstituted today. >> we only have a couple minutes left, but you spent a lot of time with steve bannon, you've heard his goals and talked about what he wants to do what you give him for being able to help reach those goals? >> i did come to agree to a lot of what he says.
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i think there's a decent chance i think bannon believes the electorate has already changed. in the republican primaries people like to trump, the establishment candidate, they were perfectly legitimate candidates. you could disagree but they were solid individuals who could be president. sonic these are good candidates and yet they chose child. despite obvious flaws think what bannon believed was already he believes it's already victorious
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where it hasn't changed is washington in the leadership and some parts of the senate that he's going after now. i think people voted for trump because they believed the culture was slipping away in the country was slipping away and even though he was a perfect candidate that he was the one who wasn't going to change. so i think there's a decent chance. >> it is exciting. it's a great book and he did next line job, it's tough to encapsulate a man in a matter of a book like this. excellent job, provoking thought for anybody who's thinking about politics and it also seems to me
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that you have flaws in bannon, trump, as we all do, but they don't want to race to judgment on someone like roy moore until they get the full story. >> i think there is some of that there. one thing that bannon said to me and this is where his faith comes in is that man has fallen a man is not perfect. we cannot expect men to always be perfect. the probably inform some of his thinking. >> there's enough a lot of folks who are not as bad as they are being painted. it's been a real pleasure of visiting with you. i look forward to reading more. thank you, and thank you for being at c-span today. . .
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hello, everyone. good evening and welcome. my name is nicolas and i helped direct events at the bookstore. books have been left


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