White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, left, with chief of staff Reince Priebus and American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 23. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Opinion writer

“When people like Steve Bannon or others grab this term and said, ‘Oh yeah, we’re alt-right,’ I don’t think they had any idea that this other group existed.”

As you will hear in the latest episode of “Cape Up” with Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, I’m not buying his explanation for why President Trump’s chief strategist is a proponent of a gussied-up version of white supremacy. After all, Bannon last year told Sarah Posner, writing for Mother Jones, “We’re the platform for the alt-right.” Her story was about how Bannon had turned Breitbart News into “an online haven for white nationalists.”


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But I started off the conversation asking the provocative question a lot of liberals have been wondering: Why have conservatives rallied around a thrice-married adulterer?

Schlapp said fellow conservatives “were so distraught” that the Republican Party was “passive when [then-President] Obama was doing things they felt like were very questionable constitutionally and unconstitutional.” With Trump, they see the good and the bad. But Schlapp told me that what overrides it all is that “the man fights.”

Schlapp speaks with The Post’s Jonathan Capehart during a taping of the “Cape Up” podcast on March 1. (Carol Alderman/The Washington Post)

“Donald Trump is not going to be careful,” Schlapp said. “He is going to push through his agenda, and so they like the fact that he fights.” And Schlapp has an interesting theory about why the president goes “outside the zone” of appropriate political discourse. “A lot of Trump is a function of Obama,” he said.

Listen to the podcast to hear Schlapp explain why he invited and disinvited conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to the Conservative Political Action Conference last month. And you gotta hear how Schlapp beat out his boss and another colleague to gain the affections of his best friend.

“Cape Up” is Jonathan’s weekly podcast talking to key figures behind the news and our culture. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever else you listen to podcasts.