US Politics

Steve Bannon cuts ties with far-right candidate trying to unseat House speaker Paul Ryan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 December, 2017, 3:58pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 December, 2017, 3:58pm

Paul Nehlen, the far-right activist who is challenging House speaker Paul Ryan for his congressional seat, has lost the support of Breitbart News and Steve Bannon.

A source close to Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who is orchestrating a slate of challengers to Republican establishment figures, said Nehlen became persona non grata after he appeared on a white supremacist podcast, Fash the Nation, earlier this month.

Bannon had never been particularly enthusiastic about Nehlen despite the wealth of coverage on Breitbart, the source said.

Nehlen is a businessman and so-called “mini-Trump” who was backed by leading right-wing figures including Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter in the 2016 primary for Ryan’s Wisconsin congressional seat. The speaker’s eventual margin of victory was huge – 84 per cent to 16 per cent – despite aggressive pro-Nehlen coverage from Breitbart.

Nehlen had remained close to Bannon and the website to which Bannon returned after his spell in the White House. Nehlen joined Bannon in endorsing and campaigning for Roy Moore.

In recent weeks Nehlen has attracted criticism for controversial tweets on immigration and other subjects. On Tuesday, for example, he tweeted that he was reading The Culture of Critique, a book by Kevin MacDonald, which is seen as anti-Semitic.

On Twitter on Tuesday night, Breitbart senior editor Joel Pollak said: “We don’t support him. Haven’t covered him in months ... He’s gone off the deep end.”

Arthur Schwartz, a Bannon adviser, told CNN: “Nehlen is dead to us.”

On Wednesday, Nehlen told CNN: “Putting America First above all other nations, such as being pro-wall and for freedom of lawful speech, has brought a coordinated attack by globalists from both parties.

“Nevertheless I will continue to stand strong against anti-American sentiment, however it manifests.”