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. person

    keep saying the stupid things you are, you are not helping americans. Can you say that to the states that will benefit from this stimulus package, roads will be renovated, schools will be fixed, blue collar jobs will increas, green jobs will be the new "IT boom". Tell me GOPs what is exactly wron with this package? Is it sound too good to be true.

    January 31, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. Constance

    So, bipartisanship is a bad thing now?

    January 31, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  3. Obama 2.0

    You do not stand with the American people. Last time I checked Obama won handily. You try and twist your words and think that you can fool enough people to get back in power, Ha. Are you kidding the Bushe's messed things up so bad that even my dog refuses to go to the Bushe's. It's not the color of a man's skin, but the color of his heart, mind & actions that determines if he is a true leader. Stick around, because President Obama will school you on real leadership, he can probably take you to the hoop too 🙂

    January 31, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  4. Keith

    The Republican message is the same. Wow all that brain Storming really paid off...

    January 31, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. JoAnn

    Sad. I had hoped for something different but in the end Steele just shows himself to be another one of those irascible conservatives who have hijacked the Republican Party and are high on the adrenalin of conflict. Time for some fresh thinking in that party soon or they are history and with them the good ideas they can bring to the table.

    January 31, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  6. james

    strategery? You sound like the former President you so blindly support.

    January 31, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. Thomas

    Its about time. No more rinos in the party. I'm sick of tired of Republicans trying to work with the dems and stabbing their own party in the back. With Steele we might now have the leadership we need. Obama's record shows he is the most partisan hack in the country. It worked for him. Not signing on to the dems wishes is going back to our roots. Less government and control of spending. When the inflation hits. We will see how high obama's so callled approval ratings are.

    January 31, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. Nero

    wow, what a loser. This is the best the GOP can do. I'm dissapointed. This is pathetic.

    January 31, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  9. disillusioned

    bipartisanship is rare. when the other side is wanting something that is not in the best interests of the country there can be no bipartsianship and to offer up an agreement with those comments is manipulative.

    January 31, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Here we go again with the divisiveness and hype. Just more of the same old tired crap! Even my Black friends think this just stunt to counter President Obama and they are not impressed at all. To them it's just another Repub gimmick.....And it 6 ballots too.

    Mr Steel, What happened to Mr J. Watts and Alan Keyes?? Where did they go? They're off the radar for good...Think about it,HMMMMM.

    January 31, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  11. Jim

    Fortunately, the majority party thinks bipartisanship is not only overrated, but meaningless. We've seen that from Pelosi's behavior in crafting the wasteful spending package.

    January 31, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. Obama 2.0

    I just figured out what the problem with the Republican party is! It is bad luck to have a symbol of an elephant with his trunk down below his head. yikes, you guys are in for a lot of tough years. It sucks to be you.

    January 31, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  13. Cal Carl

    Wow! What a team, Steele and Palin. I bet the Democrats are quaking in their boots. Actually with this pair, we should all be scared.

    January 31, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  14. Allan

    President Obama ran on a platform of working together for all the American people. PS: He won. So what are the Republicans complaining about when he meets with them to try to find some common ground? They all voted against bipartisanship, and claim the way to go is to cut taxes. Been there, done that, and look where it got us. It's time to try another way, and if the Republicans don't want to play ball, they are going to be in the wilderness for a long time to come. So much the better...

    January 31, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. Bob

    "Jacque Baer" says that during the last 8 years "the Dems waged the most hateful, mean-spirited and divisive campaign the country has ever seen against President Bush..." Wake up, Baer. The GOP treated Clinton far harshly, with far less reason. Bush was the architect of his own demise, damaging the country in countless ways and remaining utterly clueless throughout his two terms; Clinton lied about dallying with an intern and was treated like the antiChrist. Right-wingers like Limbaugh continue to spout hate: that ardent "patriot" openly wishes for his new president to fail, without even the benefit of a grace period.

    How a black man can possibly belong to the GOP is beyond me. The party has done just about everything it can to alienate minorities, so I can only imagine that Steele has some secret urge to join the Klan as well. Good luck to him. He wants "to stand first and foremost with the people", but he also doesn't want to redistribute the wealth. I heartily disagree. All the wealth garnered by the sharks of Wall Street, especially their unforgivable mega-bonuses, should be redistributed to the American people - pronto.

    January 31, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  16. Ron, Oklahoma City OK

    Democrat bipartisanship = IF Repubs do things our way and we will all get along. Let the Repubs do anything their way expecting 'bipartisanship', then the Dems see it is divisive partisanship. Mr Steele is right on...once the definition of 'bipartisanship' is made, then Dems and Repubs can all be on the same sheet of music, governmentally. Until then it there is no 'govern' and only 'mental'.

    January 31, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  17. Kaci

    Please let Mr. Steele continue down this path. It all but guarantees President Obama's re-election.

    January 31, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. Sam Barber

    Dear Jacque Stappe:

    "Democrats" (apparently 80% of the people by 2008) weren't hateful and mean-spirited to Bush until he drove the country into the ground and blatantly defied the Constitution. But don't let that stop your talking points!

    January 31, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  19. Carl

    I missed the bi-partisan lovefest of the last eight years. What exactly is Mr. Steele talking about?

    If eleven days represents the Republican limit for bipartisanship then I would suggest that the goal of the Republican party is that the government accomplish or stand for nothing at all.

    The American people spoke loud and clear in the last election for a change in direction. So Mr. Steele can lead his party to be part of that change or I would suggest changing the phrase "stand with the American people" to "stand on the sidelines."

    January 31, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. dave bryant

    No bipartisanship? Spread the wealth around? You sound like the last eight years! If this is the tone you are going to take then you,Sarah,and John can sit back and watch the rest of your party crumble. I truly would like to be able to consider someone from the conservative side of the political spectrum to vote for but all I hear when the people you choose to lead you speak is divisive rehtoric. LISTEN to what the majority of Americans are saying. I know that would be a drastic change from what you think we want but if you actually pay attention you might get a clue. By the way, if your mother was a sharecroppers daughter then I doubt you had any money in your pocket for her to take.

    January 31, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  21. joethedumber

    Democrats have Hillary so retardicans get palin. Democrats have obama, and now they put up this guy? Do they not understand its about message and substance over sex and color? They are a party of racism and sexism to the core.

    January 31, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  22. lila

    "bipartisanship is overrated"

    So, Steele is saying the republican party should have no voice in any legislation over the next four years? Maybe Steele is a democrat on the down low. Or, maybe he has no ideas to offer.
    In any case, nothing new, same song different mask. The RNC just don't get it. America is falling behind and lalaland isolationism is not the answer.

    January 31, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  23. You have got to be kidding

    "that this party, the leadership of this caucus, would stand first and foremost with the American people"

    It is not standing with the American people to block a piece of legislation that is meant to help the American people. Last I checked the American people wanted a stimulus plan that helps us, not wealthy bankers. Let's be clear no one wants to "you not redistribute the wealth of the people OF this nation", they want to redistribute the wealth TO the people of this nation. Big difference.

    January 31, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  24. Bukky

    Good... now that he said we can just steam roll them. Move every progressive bill that we can.

    January 31, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  25. Angy

    Simmy January 31st, 2009 3:32 pm ET

    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 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
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