Josh Holmes, political strategist and former Sen. Mitch McConnell aide, said he was relieved Roy Moore lost in Tuesday’s close U.S. Senate race in Alabama. He spoke to ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein about what the election could mean for the GOP on the Powerhouse Politics podcast Wednesday.
Holmes cited Todd Akin, a 2012 Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, as an example of the damage a single candidate can do to the party. Akin drew controversy by suggesting cases of “legitimate rape” rarely lead to pregnancies, and went on to lose the race by over 15 percentage points to Democrat Claire McCaskill.
“The entire party, and all of our senate candidates, and the presidential candidate himself had to answer to what the American people were seeing from this particular candidate,” Holmes said. “And I think if Roy Moore had woken up this morning as the senator-elect, I have no doubt in my mind that the Republican party would be saddled with the exact same situation.”
Holmes placed blame on the “Steve Bannon brand of politics,” saying “it did an enormous amount of damage to the Republican party.” He suggested that Bannon, the former chief strategist to Donald Trump who recently campaigned on Moore’s behalf, is not as effective as he is sometimes given credit for.
“Steve Bannon is sort of the emperor who had no clothes here.” Holmes said. “This is a guy who piloted in at the last minute to the presidential campaign and took credit for Donald Trump's victory.”
Holmes went on to say that, despite the attention the current Breitbart chief executive has garnered, the donor community is wary of Bannon.
“There's basically nobody who wants to touch him,” he said. “Not absolutely after he's spent his first foray here supporting an alleged child molester in Alabama and losing an R...”
Criticism was anticipated on Breitbart's SiriusXM radio show Wednesday, which featured Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow and Bannon himself.
"People, regardless of if it actually helps their own agenda, they're going to spend most of the day gloating because they're so happy that it's a perceived loss for you, Steve," Marlow said. "But I just wonder if that's a sophisticated reaction, if it's an accurate reaction, or if it's just sort of emotional."
Bannon then gave credit to the Democratic National Committee for Doug Jones' victory.
"One thing you've got to give a hat tip to -- the DNC came in here, slipped in here underneath the radar, and did an amazing job of organizing ... ground game," Bannon said. "Hey, you gotta give the devil its due."
Holmes, on the other hand, distanced Moore's campaign from the GOP, calling him a “uniquely bad” candidate. “This was not by any stretch of the imagination a referendum on the Republican agenda in Congress," he said.
Holmes went further to dissociate Bannon from the interests of the Republican party and the Trump administration.
“This is a guy who is basically leading a movement that doesn't exist,” Holmes said. “He's attempting to convince people that he is trying to support the Trump agenda -- but how he's doing that is opposing a candidate with a 100 percent voting record and throwing away the seat altogether.”