WASHINGTON, D.C. — Steve Bannon said the campaign crisis created last year with the revelation of Donald Trump’s ribald conversation with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush proved to be a moment that showed who was loyal to Trump and who was not.
“And I said it the other day to [White House Chief of Staff] General [John] Kelly during the Charlottesville thing, afterwards. It’s a line I remember from the movie ‘The Wild Bunch,'” he said. “William Holden uses it right before that huge gunfight at the end. ‘When you side with a man, you side with him,’ okay? The good and the bad. You can criticize him behind, but when you side with him, you have to side with him.”
“CBS This Morning” released more excerpts of the interview on Friday. The full interview will air Sunday on “60 Minutes.”
After The Washington Post released the tape on Friday, Oct. 8, it created a crisis in the campaign and over that weekend, a number of Republicans called on Trump to drop out of the race. Bannon, who served as campaign CEO and later White House chief strategist, said that Reince Priebus, then the chairman of the Republican National Committee, told Trump, “You have two choices. You either drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history.”
But Bannon said that he told Trump that he still had a “100% probability of winning.”
“And that’s what Billy Bush weekend showed me,” Bannon said. “Billy Bush Saturday showed me who really had Donald Trump’s back to play to his better angels. All you had to do, and what he did, was go out and continue to talk to the American people. … People didn’t care. They knew Donald Trump was just doing locker room talk with a guy. And they dismissed it. It had no lasting impact on the campaign. Yet, if you see the mainstream media that day, it was, literally, he was falling into Dante’s Inferno.”
Trump dismissed his conversation with Bush as “locker room talk.” But in the interview, Rose pressed Bannon on that characterization, given that Trump talked about grabbing a woman “by the p—-.” Bannon, though, insisted that it was merely “locker room talk” that working class voters didn’t care about.
As they weighed their options after the tape’s release, Bannon said that he continued to insist Trump would win.
“Appealing to the American people and to the working class people in this country, absolutely. You know why? ‘Cause – it was a winner. That’s why I told him ‘double down’ every time. And on that day, that’s the first time and only time he ever got upset with me. He goes, ‘Come on, it’s not 100%.’ I go, ‘It’s absolutely 100%.’ And I told him why. ‘They don’t care.'”
Bannon also said that Chris Christie, who had endorsed Trump, fell out of favor that weekend when he didn’t show up to support Trump.
“I told him, ‘The plane leaves at 11 o’clock in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.’ Didn’t make the plane,” Bannon said.