January 31st, 2009
03:12 PM ET
4 years ago

Bipartisanship is overrated, says new RNC chair

Michael Steele, the RNC's first African-American chairman, spoke to Republican House members Saturday.

Michael Steele, the RNC's first African-American chairman, spoke to Republican House members Saturday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The new chairman of the Republican National Committee praised House Republicans Saturday for their universal opposition to President Obama's stimulus bill and used his family's own life experiences to justify voting against it.

Click here to listen to Steele remarks Saturday.

"I know we're living in the era of bipartisanship," Steele joked to the House GOP congressmen who gathered this weekend to discuss policy and politics. "I thought it was very important to send a signal, and you sent it loudly, very clearly, that this party, the leadership of this caucus, would stand first and foremost with the American people. You made it very clear that in order to grow through this recession that you not redistribute the wealth of the people of this nation."

The former Maryland lieutenant governor specifically spoke about his mother as he slammed the Obama plan.

"My mom was a sharecropper's daughter with a fifth-grade education," Steele said. "And my mother knew how to balance the budget without taking money out of my pocket."

Steele drew cheers from the crowd when he pledged the GOP would re-take the majority in Congress, beginning with the fight over New York's 20th congressional district - recently vacated by the state's newly-named senator, Kirsten Gillibrand. She defeated GOP Rep. John Sweeney in 2006.

"I'm in the business of winning elections," said Steele. But he also noted that he was unsuccessful in his 2006 bid for the Senate.

"As a black Roman Catholic conservative from Washington, D.C., and Maryland, I also know how to lose elections," he said.

Filed under: Michael Steele • RNC
soundoff (361 Responses)
  1. andrew

    When the minority party thinks bipartisanship is overrated, you have to start wondering what these people are on.

    January 31, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  2. Aaron

    And this is why the GOP is no longer in power ...

    January 31, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. Chris W

    "I'm in the business of winning elections," said Steele

    Thats great, but I am more interested in seeing politicians serve the best interest of the country.

    January 31, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Jacque Bauer

    Now that the Dems have won, they insist on having bipartisanship? During the last 8 years the Dems waged the most hateful, mean-spirited and divisive campaign the country has ever seen against President Bush, with an accommodating and enthusiastic media. Pelosi and Reid are the most partisan hacks we've ever had to endure. The constitution was written to support spirited partisan debate (which does NOT imply uncivil!), with voting rules to settle the score. So forget the meaningless 'bipartisanship'; it's only a Dem strategery for making the Repubs bend over backwards to join the lib side.

    January 31, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Simmy

    Mr. Steele, back when my mother's mother picked cotton (and she only had a sixth grade education), times were different. The "21st Century" requires a more realist mindset. Realize this: If McCain had won the election you would be just one of the other 4 diverse individuals in the crowd. For the sake of your own dignity, don't let yourself be used as a tool against President Obama. If you plan to join your party in bashing him, you'll soon be as obsolete as J. Watts and Alan Keyes. Thank you.

    January 31, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. wow

    At least the first African American president wasn't an idiot. God, the redistribution of wealth argument is getting really old.

    January 31, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. Griff

    Work together! But with a Difference.. The right to Disagree..

    January 31, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Lisa in Az

    What a BAD WAY to start off. Being divisive and patronizing to the American people and disrespectful to our new President. I was hoping Steele would be smarter then that, but obviously not.
    DIVISVENESS IS OUT!! Cooperation and trying to be positive and bipartisan are IN-THAT is what most Americans want. Solutions to our problems-not more bickering. I give him an F on his first statement

    January 31, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Truth

    Unlce tom is all I have to say. The gop goof offs will forever be in the minority. Remeber Alan Keyes? Steele is the new Keyes. A party full of the biggest losers. Steele will have to obey his masters

    January 31, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. The Teester

    Great a caveman, Alpha-male–he'll do his best to set the GOP back 50 years...

    January 31, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. J.L.

    Lol... this is one of the stupidest things I've heard. The Republicans are not even close to getting a majority in either houses of Congress and Earth to Steele, the Democrats also have hold of the Executive Branch with a president who has a high approval rating.

    At this point the only way that the Republicans can get anything they want in their agenda to go anywhere is ONLY THROUGH bipartisanship. So slamming bipartisanship as being the way the Republicans should work is just delusional. I think in the end this is just going to backfire big time and will make the Republicans just seem like the party of NO. Of course this will pander to the narrow Republican-base, but isn't that what the Republican party has always been? The exclusive party?

    Best of luck, Michael Steele, if this is the direction you're taking the RNC.

    January 31, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. SOLID D

    Why does this guy feel that he has to remind us of his skin color every five minutes?

    January 31, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. Independant Nevadan

    Bipartisanship is over-rated?!??!?!

    Oh, please.

    Don't tell me this is the "new" message of the Republicans!

    I mean, I get the whole purpose of an opposition party is to keep the majority power from spinning out of control.
    Still, who says that means the two parties can't come together in such a perilous time as this and work for the COMMON GOOD?

    Good luck to any Republican who carries this message on for the next couple of years. I doubt they'll be re-elected.

    January 31, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. JR

    "Bipartisanship is overrated, says new RNC chair"

    what would a Republican know about bipartisanship, nothing that's what. Their inability in that area is one of the main reasons the country is in the mess it is.

    January 31, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. We Shall Overcome

    It's good you know how to lose elections...you'll need the experience!
    Obama/Biden 2009-2016

    January 31, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. someone

    Yep, the Republicans are just as divisive as ever.

    January 31, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. CTSadler

    Good luck Mike. You're going to need it. Really.

    January 31, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. james

    ""I'm in the business of winning elections," said Steele. But he also noted that he was unsuccessful in his 2006 bid for the Senate."

    -This mentality is exactly what is wrong with our elected representatives, for they are not in the BUSINESS OF WINNING ELECTIONS, they are elected to be in the BUSINESS OF GOVERNING OUR NATION AND COMMUNITIES.

    -This is exactly why John McCain's two presidential bids were unsuccessful, because he forgot that what is admired about him is his role as a representative, not his role as a campaigner.

    -This is exactly what has been ailing our political institutions since the advent of modern neoconservativism and neoliberalism for the past forty years.

    -This is exactly why President Obama's campaign message and administrative style has and continues to resonate with so many Americans, and global citizens.

    Wake up Washington. Wake up leaders. You are in the business of managing, administrating, legislating, governing and representing the citizens of this nation and leading the world abroad.

    January 31, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Aaron Sharpsteen

    "Standing with the American people" by refusing to move forward on our economic crisis, stubbornly clinging to long disproved notions that if we just let the wealthy keep to themselves, everything will be just dandy? Thats a good one. Tell us another.

    January 31, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. patti

    Why don't you people just be honest with yourselves: The American people do not want this "trickle down" philosophy anymore. We are sick and tired of you people putting idiots in charge of things while you capitilize making millions and ripping off the public. Go ahead–RUN SARAH PALIN in 2012–it will be the biggest landslide in history–MAYBE YOUR LAST STAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 31, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Sean

    That's exactly we need to do is re-take the House and Senate and actually make Obama PROVE his plans will work. Currently, we only have agreements in congress when Obama puts a plan out. Why? Because that's the socialist thing to do - all air and no substance.

    January 31, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. Ya_Ya

    Republicans, – – ya just gotta love 'em. This is going to work as well as ............. Sarah Palin.

    January 31, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. FAYE, NV

    Yea, that's the way to do it, you coward are afraid to stay anything about obama so you get a black man to go against another black man.

    Mr Steele is being used to pump up the RNC against President Obama.

    January 31, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. Jonathan

    Yeah "Mr. RNC Chairman"...........you keep thinking on that same mind-set, and see how far the Republican Party will get!! Thats the exact same "bull-headed" attitude that made you lose miserably in November!!!

    January 31, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. white plains mark

    how absolutely shameless is the Republican Party? first they thought putting a woman on their presidential ticket would automatically make them seem "in touch" – even if she didn't have the chops for the office. Now that an African American president is in the White House, well, presto – they install a black head of the RNC. Aren't they progressive? Can't we just forget about the last awful 8 years and terrible Republican policies that got us here? these guys are as clueless as the auto execs who flew to washington on separate corporate jets to ask for money. Un-real!

    January 31, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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