WASHINGTON (CNN) – Despite the climate of national goodwill surrounding Barack Obama as he prepares to take the oath of office, two of the candidates vying to lead the Republican National Committee unleashed harsh attacks against the president-elect on Friday.
Katon Dawson, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, promised in a new a YouTube message to be Obama's "worst nightmare" and said it would be the party’s mission for the next four years to "expose" the Democrats for what they "want to do to this country."
"I can assure you that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will understand that Katon Dawson will become their worst nightmare," he says in the video. "We will expose them at every turn for what they are doing to the American public."
Dawson defended his tough talk as the duty of a party leader.
"Whether you're the chairman of the state party or the national committee, your job is to hold Democrats accountable in every way," he told CNN. "That doesn't mean you have to do it in a mean tone of voice or in a way that doesn't offer solutions."
Earlier in the day, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who has positioned himself as one of the most rigidly conservative contenders for the RNC's top job, published a column on Townhall.com accusing Obama's economic stimulus package of being a liberal "Trojan Horse" that has "serious flaws, some of which convey a partisan advantage."
Obama’s stimulus plan would create government jobs, Blackwell argued, and government workers tend to vote Democrat. He called it "political mischief."
"In 2008, Virginia went Democrat for the first time since 1964, and Mr. Obama won it by 130,000 votes," he wrote. "Creating 600,000 new jobs might help cement Virginia in the Democrat column, making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House."
The 168 members of the RNC will elect a new chairman at the end of the month at their annual winter meeting in Washington.
Dawson and Blackwell have four more rivals in the race: incumbent RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and former Tennessee GOP chair Chip Saltsman.