In a vivid illustration of the changing fortunes and escalating battle within the Republican Party, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is celebrating a victory over the GOP “establishment” this morning — as Donald Trump retreats from the front by deleting his tweets.

The success for Bannon, his outlet Breitbart, and its allies came in the Republican Senate primary in Alabama on Tuesday night, as their favored candidate Roy Moore defeated the choice of the GOP leadership, interim Senator Luther Strange, by 55% to 45%.

Moore is a hard-right former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was twice suspended from the position, first over ethics violations and then over his attempt to block same-sex marriages. However, he surged during the campaign to fill the seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — overcoming $10 million spent by political outlets linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — with the support of evangelical Christians as well as Bannon and the alt-right.

Breitbart celebrated, “Bama Blowout: Moore’s ‘Grassroots Muscle’ Beats Strange’s ‘Corporate Money’ in GOP Senate Runoff”, highlighting Bannon’s proclamation that “a vote for Moore is a vote for the economic nationalist agenda that got Trump elected”.

As soon as Bannon was pushed out of the White House in mid-August, he and his staff declared a “#WAR” for Trump against the GOP leadership in Congress and some White House officials such as National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn. Bannon began interviewing primary opponents for incumbent GOP senators facing re-election in 2018, backed by money from allies such as mega-donor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah.

In an interview on Fox TV on Monday night, Bannon fought for Moore by accusing McConnell and his allies of “economic hate crimes”:

Moore played down any confrontation with Trump after the President’s fervent support for Strange, including a speech at a Friday night rally in Huntsville.

The judge lifted Trump’s slogan, “Together, we can make America great,” and continued, “Don’t let anybody in the press think that because he supported my opponent that I do not support him.”

Trump Deletes Twitter Support for Strange

Meanwhile Trump — or someone on his staff — deleted tweets backing Strange against Moore.

The messages included one on Monday, “Big election tomorrow in the Great State of Alabama. Vote for Senator Luther Strange, tough on crime & border – will never let you down!”, and two on Tuesday: “ALABAMA, get out and vote for Luther Strange – he has proven to me that he will never let you down!” and “Luther Strange has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement. Finish the job – vote today for ‘Big Luther’.”

Trump’s “total endorsement” of Strange in August is still live on his account, as are other tweets promoting the candidate.

On Tuesday night, Trump replaced his latest deleted tweets with a message for both candidates which did not mention his previous backing of Strange.

And in his initial tweet on Wednesday, Trump tried to build a bridge to the Bannon-supported winner: