Before White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was the reported “intellectual force” behind President Trump’s administration, he was a Bruce Springsteen-loving, “very liberal guy,” friends, acquaintances, and roommates from his college years say.
As The Daily Beast reports, Bannon attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for his undergraduate studies, earning a degree in urban affairs from the school in 1976. But that college-aged Bannon is reportedly a far cry from the far-right-supporting, travel ban-drafting chief strategist with whom the public has become familiar, several people familiar with Bannon during college told the website.
“He was a very liberal guy,” architect and former Bannon roommate Peter Alberice told The Daily Beast of Bannon’s college years. “Everybody was back then. His politics were always liberal [then]. It was a very left-of-center time in America.”
That apparently liberal bent also extended to the former Breitbart News executive's pop -ulture preferences, said Alberice, who says he lived with Bannon at an apartment complex called Stonegate, near the Virginia Tech campus. In fact, Alberice says Bannon was a “huge fan” of both the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen.
“When Springsteen came to the VA Tech auditorium, we all went to see him play,” Alberice, who says he still keeps in touch with Bannon, told TDB. “It was the Born to Run tour, and Steve was excited.”
Bannon’s love for the Grateful Dead reportedly was on par with his preference for Springsteen, with the then-college student playing the Dead’s “Unbroken Chain” on Virginia Tech’s college radio station following the death of historian and philosopher Arnold Toynbee (yes, that Toynbee) in 1975, another former roommate John DePaola told TDB.
“I don’t know why ‘Unbroken Chain’ reminded him of Arnold’s work, but it meant a great deal to him, and he felt compelled to share it with the Virginia Tech community,” Depaola said.
“The republic is under siege by a moron, basically,” Springsteen told Rolling Stone in September. “The whole thing is tragic. Without overstating it, it’s a tragedy for our democracy.”
The New Jersey rocker had similarly bleak words for Trump’s initial travel ban of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, of which Bannon was reportedly the architect.
“America is a nation of immigrants and we find this anti-democratic and fundamentally un-American,” Springsteen said at a live show in Australia in January.
The Trump administration released a revised version of its travel ban earlier this month that will go into effect Thursday, providing it is not blocked in a similar manner to the initial executive order. The current ban would bar citizens from Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria from entering the United States for 90 days, and it would bar all refugees from entering the country for 120 days.
At least one of Bannon’s former roommates doesn't prefer his current ideological leanings. DePaola “does not like his friend’s nationalist, right-wing politics.” However, despite that difference, DePaola says he would still be there for Bannon if the White House chief strategist needed him.
“If [Steve] called me tomorrow and asked me to help him do something, I would go do it immediately,” DePaolo said.