Former White House strategist Steve Bannon re-energized France's struggling far-right National Front party Saturday by speaking at a party congress and telling Marine Le Pen's nationalist supporters: "History is on our side."
Bannon's appearance in France was part of a European tour as he seeks an international platform for his closed-borders message that helped Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency.
The former Breitbart News chairman was an early admirer of the National Front, whose long-standing "French First" motto rallied French voters for years before Trump's "America First" campaign.
"Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor," he told the crowd at the party congress.
The National Front has never won the French presidency, and the congress in Lille is aimed at remaking its image after Le Pen's crushing defeat to independent, pro-globalization Emmanuel Macron in last year's presidential election.
But Bannon might have threatened Le Pen's makeover with his compliments for an extreme version of the National Front and lavish praise for Le Pen's more hard-line niece and rival.
"You're part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy," Bannon told National Front supporters, denouncing central banks, central governments and "crony capitalists."
His European tour centered on last weekend's Italian election, which Bannon called "an earthquake" after populist and anti-immigration parties outperformed traditional parties. The outcome has boosted far-right movements across Europe and was seen as a victory for the forces that elected Trump and voter approval for Britain to leave the European Union.
"History is on our side," Bannon said to hearty cheers.
He praised Le Pen's vision of a political spectrum that no longer spans left-right but puts nationalists versus globalists. Bannon gave his first European speech in Zurich earlier in the week and said Saturday that he was traveling the world to learn.
The European tour comes as Bannon's role in American politics is uncertain. He was ousted from the White House last year amid tensions and stepped down as chairman of Breitbart News Network in January after a public break with Trump.