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In Manchester, Steve Bannon Claims N.H. Voter Fraud And Pitches Republican Party Unity

Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump, speaks during an event in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Mary Schwalm/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump, speaks during an event in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Mary Schwalm/AP)

Former White House chief strategist and head of Breitbart News Steve Bannon spoke to New Hampshire Republicans last night at an event in Manchester.

As people arrived at the Executive Court Banquet Facility in Manchester to hear Bannon speak, many of them were greeted by "boos" from across the street.

Dozens of people like Hassan Essa, who recently ran for alderman in Manchester, stood in a line with glowing signs that read "no hate in Granite State."

Essa said he just couldn’t understand why some people would pay as much $750 to hear Bannon speak.

“You really want to ask, ‘Why?’" he said. "Like, ‘how can you hate so many people?’”

But inside the venue, Republican state Rep. John Valera said the only hate he sees is coming from the protesters.

“I asked them about their signs and I said, ‘why do you people always have these hate signs?’ ‘Well, cause you people are white supremacists.’ ‘I don’t think so, I’m a libertarian, you guys gotta get real.’”

Protesters hold signs ahead of an event featuring Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump, in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Mary Schwalm/AP)
Protesters hold signs ahead of an event featuring Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump, in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Mary Schwalm/AP)

Valera was one of many Republican elected officials, past and present, to attend the event. Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu was there, as was former House Speaker Bill O’Brien and current Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut.

Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager and New Hampshire resident, was among the speakers.

He began by reminding the crowd of some of the history of this venue in Manchester – a popular stop on the state political circuit.

“This room is very, very special to me. The first time I ever met a person who I’m pleased to call my friend and the president of the United States was right here in this very room," Lewandowski said.

The nostalgia continued with Bannon, who told the crowd he was wearing the same jacket he wore when he first interviewed Donald Trump in 2014. Then Bannon relived Trump’s upset election, minute by minute.

“At 10:36, AP called Ohio for Donald J. Trump. At 10:50, AP called Florida for Donald Trump. At 11:11, AP called North Carolina for Donald J. Trump," he said.

In the midst of that victory lap, Bannon also took time to again level charges of voter fraud in New Hampshire, a state won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

“I believe strongly, and I’m prepared to put my money where my mouth is, that we won the state of New Hampshire," he said.

Election officials here have repeatedly said there is no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the vote count. Secretary of State Bill Gardner has told NHPR there is no evidence that voter fraud in any way tainted the 2016 results in New Hampshire.

Bannon also dismissed the controversy over Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama who is facing accusations reported in The Washington Post of sexual misconduct with underage girls in the 1970s and '80s. Bannon blamed the story on media bias and compared the report to the Access Hollywood tape of the 2016 campaign.

But perhaps the message Bannon most wanted to leave the room with was one of party unity. He said the coalition that elected Trump is fraying and spoke frankly of the divisions within the party that he says need to be overcome.

“Everybody in this room doesn’t agree, right? There’s a lot of folks in this room who thinks free trade is fine. I think it’s a radical idea and I’m a protectionist," he said.

"We’re going to have to work that out as partners. I’m not going to get everything I want, you’re not going to get everything you want.”

Bannon warned that if the party doesn’t coalesce, midterm elections in 2018 “wouldn’t be pretty.”

It may have been the only thing he said that protestors across the street could wholeheartedly agree with.

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