Keith Heard, former chief of staff for Sen. Thad Cochran, is a lobbyist and president of Key Impact Strategies. Heard, who is 61 and lives in Mississippi, keeps an apartment on Capitol Hill, not far from his doppelganger, Breitbart chairman and former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
When did you realize you are a dead ringer for Steve Bannon?
I didn’t know for a while. But on election night my text messages started blowing up: “Saw you in New York.” “What are you doing up on the stage?” I texted back, “Everybody’s gotta be somewhere.” But I didn’t pay much attention. It didn’t hit me that it was Bannon they were talking about.
Bannon has compared himself with Dick Cheney, Darth Vader and Satan. How does that make you feel?
Prettier than him. It’s interesting — a friend and I, we were at a meeting here in Washington, standing outside the Hyatt on New Jersey [Avenue NW], and a union was having a meeting there. Some guys were looking at us, staring at us. We went inside and a couple came up and wanted to know [if I was Bannon]. I said, “No, I’m not.” They were nice to me, but they were giving me some tough looks at first.
One night, we were at the National Building Museum for a big fundraiser that the president always comes to. My table happened to be up front, to the side of the podium. A congressman comes over, gives me his card and asks me to meet some of his constituents. When I told him, “I’m not who you think I am,” he reached over, grabbed his card out of my hand and walked off.
What’s interesting is that it’s not just political people. It’s all demographics. A homeless man told me, “You looked good on ‘60 Minutes’ the other night.” At the Capital Grille, a Democratic congressman wanted me to meet his constituents. When I told him, he said, “Oh, hell, come on anyway. They won’t know the difference.”
You said you move in the same circles as Mr. Bannon. What are those circles?
Just Republican political circles. But I walk every morning, about 2½ miles, [and] going down the street I saw a guy going by, and he’s a pretty good-looking fellow. And then it dawned on me: [Bannon]. I would have liked to say hello and see if we do look the same. I guess it’s kind of vain that I thought he looked good.
What’s the biggest difference between you and Bannon?
We have a lot of similarities. I’m a populist conservative, but I’m a big supporter of the Republican Party. Our biggest difference would be in tactics. I don’t think beating [establishment Republicans] and potentially having a Democrat take their place is good for the country.
Now that Bannon has left the White House, would you agree to becoming Trump’s chief strategist?
I would enjoy that. I was a Trump delegate from Mississippi.
What advice would you give him?
Work with Congress and get something passed.