White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon condemned white nationalist "clowns" in an interview Wednesday but continued to hit Democrats over "identity politics," saying if they talked about race every day he could ensure Republican election victories.
“The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em," the former head of Breitbart News told The American Prospect in an interview. "I want them to talk about racism every day."
"If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats,” he added.
Bannon's comments came after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., turned violent over the weekend, resulting in one death and at least 19 injuries.
Bannon went on to dismiss the white nationalists who rallied in the college town as "clowns" who had been played up by the media. Bannon conceded that the White House did, however, need to play a bigger role in marginalizing white nationalist influence.
“These guys are a collection of clowns,” Bannon said. “Ethno-nationalism—it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more."
Bannon's job at the White House has reportedly been at risk in recent days as pressure builds on President Trump to dump the nationalist wing of his coalition.
Reuters cited three White House officials earlier Wednesday who said that Bannon could be demoted by Trump, who they described as "nervous" about the blowback from punishing Bannon.
"The president obviously is very nervous and afraid of firing him," a source told Reuters on Wednesday.