Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, joined Republican Senate hopeful Dr. Kelli Ward at a campaign kickoff fundraiser Tuesday night in Scottsdale. So it's probably not a coincidence that almost every sentence could have been a Breitbart headline.
Ward, who is challenging incumbent Jeff Flake, was only on stage for about 10 minutes. For that limited time, she spoke the language of President Donald Trump.
Health care? "We need to pull Obamacare out by the roots," she said.
Immigration? "We need to build that wall," she said.
Tax reform? "It's not just for rich, fat cat cronies," she said.
The America First Super PAC, linked to Bannon, has funneled $20,000 into Ward's campaign so far in hopes of building a "Trump Ticket." It looks like they've chosen the right mouthpiece.
Bannon, Ward's henchman for the evening, began by taking digs at the establishment.
Like Ward, Bannon was very complimentary of Trump.
Even though the former White House chief strategist pulled an Anthony Scaramucci and basically undercut the whole administration during an impromptu interview with a journalist, Bannon maintains that he left to be Trump's "wingman."
"I left the White House because Trump needed a wingman outside, helping candidates for the Senate," Bannon said according to a CNN report.
On Tuesday, he made good on that promise.
Over and over he told the crowd that big money in Washington has to go — they need to drain the swamp.
This is exactly what Ward supporter and well-known Phoenix conservative "Buffalo" Rick Galeener wanted to hear.
"Money didn't buy Hillary the election," Galeener said. "We're tired of people who want to be career politicians."
Bannon catered to his audience and told them that if he had to choose to be governed by the first 100 people who entered the Ward event or those at Goldman Sachs, he would choose the Ward supporters.
"It's going to be their money versus your muscle," he said to the crowd of nearly 900.
He told the crowd that the "globalist elites" who were ruling from their ivory towers were actually afraid of the voter base Ward was creating.
"When they attack the Donald Trumps and Kelli Wards, it's not them, it's you they're attacking," he said.
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham served as Ward's other hype man before she took the stage.
Ingraham followed Trump's lead and berated Republican Senator Jeff Flake for being too weak and not conservative enough.
Despite this popular insult, data from FiveThirtyEight show the opposite — Flake votes with Trump 91.5 percent of the time.
In large part, this bullying of Flake is what earned him only a 25 percent favorability rating among Republicans in a September poll conducted by left-leaning GBA Strategies group.
As a result, Ward is benefiting.The same study shows Ward beating him 58 to 31 percent in a vote matchup.
Ingraham told the crowd that Flake doesn't trust them and probably doesn't really like them, but Ward understood them.
She's a doctor.
She's an Army wife.
She's just like you.
This familiarity is what kept longtime supporter Dolores Testernan coming back to support Ward.
Clad in a homemade Kelli Ward T-shirt and cowboy hat, the Vail, Arizona, resident helped pass out a petition to get Ward on the ballot. She said that she likes that Ward talks the same way on the stump as she does in person.
Her candidate was "conservative for real" and not a "phony bologna" like so many others.
Most importantly, she wasn't a hypocrite, which Testernan defines as someone whose "insides don't match their outsides."
"She values us on a deep level," she said of Ward. "From her heart, she wants to know what people think and feel."
There are some, though, who are just not buying it.
Former Breitbart reporters and Ward campaign managers started stirring the pot on Twitter Tuesday afternoon claiming that Ward wasn't loyal.
Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, Ward's former chief strategist and press secretary respectively, drafted a full statement apologizing for legitimizing Ward as a candidate and propping up her campaign.
Stockton and Lawrence described the Ward campaign as a disaster in its early stages, but also an opportunity to prove their skills in campaign management.
However, their pet project seems to have disappointed them.
"Unfortunately, she showed that she isn't up to the task of standing up to the pressure that causes so many candidates to betray voters when they get to Washington," the statement read.
The statement promises to make America First activists proud and ominously ends with a "stay tuned."
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