January 31st, 2009
03:12 PM ET
7 months 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. Colin

    These threats of an imagined Communist boogeyman dipping his hands into the wallets of working Americans to fix the economy didn't work during the election, what makes Steele think they'll work now?

    January 31, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. LLT

    Steele LOST his race for a Senate seat when he even resorted to pretend to be a Democrat to win votes. Seems he is pulling just about every card out of the deck in his first day as leader!!

    January 31, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  3. CINDY

    BIPARTISANSHIP IS JUST A WORD GAME YOU GUYS ARE PLAYING. IS IT SOMETHING NEW YOU GUYS HAVE COME UP WITH SINCE BUSH LEFT OFFICE? HOW CONVENIENT THAT YOU'VE DISCOVERED IT NOW.

    January 31, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  4. erica

    Jacque,
    It wasn't the Dems who waged a campaign against Pres. Bush... his approval ratings were low amongst all. He was/is horribly unpopular, and I'm afraid you can't blame Dems for that... look no further than the man himself.

    January 31, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  5. LMC in Seattle

    So much for new Republican leadership. When are the political leaders going to realize that most Americans really don't care which party does what as long as our country thrives and people have jobs. For heavens sake, work together and you will be surprised at the changes that can be made. I would like to see the parties work together. We are in too much trouble to be worrying about political agendas. Grow up! I work with elementary school students who can work out problems together better than the so-called grownups in Washington DC!

    January 31, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. Dems a bit hypocritical?

    I am an Obama supporter but I must say that many democrats are sounding a bit hypocritical. They had no problem with hating George Bush for eight years and trying to block everything he did. Some of them even hoped for failure in Iraq just so they could get their people elected.

    It's the same in both parties. But don't cry foul when it happens to you. This has been going on for 200 years people.

    January 31, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  7. Xavier

    ... and this is why the republican party is headed down to hell in a handbasket. No new ideas, now new philosophy and not the slightest idea of what is going on with America. You may have selected STeel as the head of your party, but you continue to thumb your nose at the needs of minorities.

    January 31, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. RJL

    Democrats = Universal Healthcare.
    Republicans = Wealth care for the ultra rich.

    Hmm, which one do you think I want Mr. Steele?

    January 31, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  9. Jon Davis

    "Steele drew cheers from the crowd when he pledged the GOP would re-take the majority in Congress"

    This guy Steele is loonier than Blagojevich. He should run for governor of Illinois.

    January 31, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  10. Mike

    So the GOP elected a AfroAmerican to argue against Obama's policies. Do they really think the people will buy this. Their policies are the main reason we are currently where we are. You can color that any way you want and the facts won't change.

    January 31, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  11. Ruthy

    The RNC thinks people are that dumb? Just because Michael Steele is black does not mean all of a sudden, change is going to come to the Republican Party. We see through it! Steele does not equal the greatness of Obama and will NOT get minority support as long as Republicans trumpet tainted values!

    January 31, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. LT

    A 'Patsy,' for the Republicans, that's all this guy is. He failed his Bar exam, and is not able to practice law anywhere. This is another bone-head move by the Republicans that is more ill conceived than the Palin nomination.

    January 31, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  13. nero fiddled

    This guy comes right out of the blocks hoping the new President will fail.This is why Rome fell.

    January 31, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  14. Neil N.

    The leadership of the GOP isn't the problem. It's the fact that enough people are so stupid enough to keep these fools in power.

    And by the way, tax cuts in a time of war?! Really?! Is that the GOP's answer to our problems?! For those of you that still don't get it:
    IF THE MONEY TO WAGE OUR WAR ISN'T COMING FROM US, IT'S COMING FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES. Like China, and do we really want to be in debt to China? Think about it. Think really hard.

    January 31, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  15. Dennis

    As an ex-republican I am not surprised by such a comment. The republican party has secluded themselves from reality to the extent they can not see what had happened to this country under their rule during the past 8 years. They continue to bow to the rich or now not-so-rich who themselves are beginning to see the failed policies. Wise up guys or 2010 and 2012 will be a continuation of 2006 and 2008. Don't sacrifice this country for your flawed beliefs.

    January 31, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  16. obama all the way

    this man is a true republican, no reguard for the American people at all, selfish and completely out of touch with what America is facing. God Bless President Obama, of the people, by the people, and FOR THE PEOPLE.

    January 31, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  17. Stephanie

    Mr. Steele, your comments are overrated, as is the media coverage of your "historic" appointment. If you think that you got the RNC Chairman position because you were the most qualified among the Republicans, you are as badly mistaken as John McCain was for choosing Sarah Palin as a running mate. The Republican need to work with the Democrats in order to show everyone that they know how to play nice and work to get things done. That is the important thing–getting things done. Not complaining about working together. This country will continue to fall apart if your party continues to make ignorant comments instead of working to find solutions to the nation's ills.

    January 31, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  18. D.Kimbro OHIO

    This man will help to make the GOP a non-issue from now on. I think a clear message was sent by choosing him, oddly it was the same message as when they picked Sarah on the ticket. They thought that would lure women, now they are going for minorities. How short-sighted. Stop trying to appeal to groups that are'nt monolithic with these cookie cutter strategies. Why don't you worry about what is good for the American people, instead of perpetuating the same games. You Sir. are a joke.

    January 31, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. dr.mimi de la cruz

    THE RNC IS LOOKING FOR A PERSON THAT DOESN'T

    LOOK LIKE THEIR PAST BUT IS NONE THE LESS THEIR PAST.

    WE HAD A GREAT AFFINITY TO ELECT A WOMAN & THEY CAME

    UP WITH A MORON THAT WAS A WOMAN. WE ELECTED AN

    AFRICAN AMERICAN & THEY WENT-A-LOOKING FOR AN

    AFRICAN-AMERICAN IN HOPES THAT SOME HOW HE CAN

    INOCULATE US FROM RECOGNIZING THE SAME HATEFUL

    RHETORIC OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. THAT WON'T WORK !!!

    WE DON'T CARE ABOUT STEEL'S COLOR NO MORE THAN WE

    CARED ABOUT THEIR POLE DANCER FOR VP. STEEL IS THE

    SAME KIND OF IDIOT THE REST OF THEM ARE.

    January 31, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  20. Twisted Melvin

    Yes, it appears Steele's election sends a message to Republicans. But his tortured logic and words suggests that message about his erection is very confused. He is confused. He doesn't sound bipartisan. Somehow, the Republicans will do more damage to themselves. And that hastens the day that that party will split into its three logical parts.

    January 31, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  21. allforjoy

    The Republican's selection of Steele to head the RNC reminds me of McCain's strategy to counter punch Hillary Clinton:

    ~~Get another skirt in there—no need to check whether or not she has a CLUE about what a VP does. It's not important to have smart people in the White House. It worked for George. Palin's telegenic so she'll make us look good. People will like her. They'll want to sit down and have a beer with her…~~

    So now we have an African-American President. Good. Thanks to your failed strategies and recent track record, we also have a Democratic majority in Congress. (+/- ?–it's too soon to tell)

    RNC: Just choosing another person of color is not going to help your party. Steele is a modern version of the spook who sat by the door. What are his other sterling qualifications? No one will be fooled.

    Here's an idea for the Republicans:

    Write down your lessons learned. Study and discuss them. Consider what voters–not lobbyists–want. Figure out how you can avoid repeating the very mistakes that got you in this position in the first place. Sheesh!

    January 31, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  22. John Smith in TX

    He is right.

    The Democrats in Washington, espically Pelosi and Reid, are some of the biggest people of partisanship ever. All the want is THEIR agenda pushed, and THEIR needs. They don't care about the American people.

    Republicans have and should keep standing up for their beliefs on behalf of the American people.

    January 31, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  23. Katie

    If this isn't a crock of baloney. Our economy has tanked and they are still screaming give the rich more money and the repubs try to distract us by saying the dems are redistributing the wealth. What wealth? Only a very few have any money now, that is unless you are Exxon. WAKE UP FOLKS.

    January 31, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  24. punkvoter

    Steele, how dare you try to simplify our trillion dollar debt with a story about your mother balancing her budget! This alone shows your naivete on how big of a mess America is truly in. Unless of course, you believe we are not in such a big a mess as the so-called "liberal media" would like us to think!

    January 31, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  25. MsRotten

    LMAO!!! Do the RepubTards think that they will now get the black vote because they have Steele as chair? Steele is just the Repubtards "token black man" is all. They (Repubs) are truly PATHETIC!!

    January 31, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
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