January 31st, 2009
03:12 PM ET
9 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. Kona

    Please. This is sad. What a tool. It's almost like the republicans sat around a table and said "we got to get us an Obama! Bobby Jindal, Michael Steele, you guys listenin'?"

    January 31, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  2. Teresa

    I can’t believe that House Republicans are "delighted" and "elated" and "celebrating" over their zero votes to save the economy. People are losing their jobs for Christ sake, people are killing themselves and their families and they are happy because they did not vote for the bill? Instead of coming out with a solution to solve this crisis, they are planning on making the current House Minority the Speaker of House. If they are not careful, they may end up not being speaker of anything. Imagine if this bill really works and people realize that none of them voted for it. Instead of attempting to work together, come up with better solution they are partying when just this week, 100000 jobs were lost. This is what they decided to do. Nice going pals.

    January 31, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  3. Bhavna

    I feel very sorry for Mr. Steele. The Republicans can only appoint an african american for the behind the sceen hard work. Why can't they select an african american to contest for the presidency.. oh no.. that would be a revolution :(. Mr. Steele is talking about winning the election in dreams. Barack is set for next 8 years! Mr. Steele will be gone by then. Look at Sarah Palin.. they used her as door mat and now dumped her in a trash. That is the fabulous Republican party you are talking about Mr. Steele.

    January 31, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  4. Robert

    Hear that? That's the sound of the GOP going down the toilet.

    January 31, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  5. deja

    oh please, steele don't be so full of yourself.

    your nothing more than the token black guy for the republican party. had obama not won the presidency, they would not have picked you.

    January 31, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  6. Richard Terrell

    The reason he said what he did is that to the Dems, bipartisanship is their way or the hiway. They make the laws and Republicans are to just meekly go along without a peep. A two party system is vital to any nation to keep the ruling party in check. This bi-partisanship was NOT utilized by Nancy Pelosi when they crafted this Democrat porkulus bill. It is one payback after another to groups that got them elected. And we taxpayers have to pay for it. This is really a sham and a shame. They shut out all amendments the Republicans tried to offer. They are running rough shod over any and all opposition. In two years you won't recognize this nation. Socialist America, change you can believe in.

    January 31, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. SMAC

    Everyone can see why Steele was elected except Mr. Steele. The GOP think that if they have a black leader it will make a difference in their shattered image. One thing they forgot is that Michael Steele could not buy the charisma that President Obama has, and African Americans do not identify with their new chairman like they identify with President Obama.

    January 31, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. Meisha

    Being a Democrat, I really had hoped that the Republicans would get it together and take on a more diplomatic stance, but obviously that is asking too much at this time. No one is expecting you to bow down to the new president but common sense dictates that you realize that the majority of the American public is really in no mood for your nonsense. God forbid you grow up and act like adults. Just get a life and realize that we want things fixed and you are not getting off to a good start. I suggest that you work with the president and not shun him. Otherwise you will appear to simply be obstructionist and the American public will pay you back in spades come next election. There is a more professional way to get your ideas incorporated into public policy and this is not it.

    January 31, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. MavTX

    The Republican Party is pathetic. They are dinosaurs with no original ideas.

    Just as the majority of American voters overwhelmingly rejected Sarah Palin as a substitue for Hillary Clinton . . .the Republicans can not stick a black face (Michael Steele) in a GOP leadership position and think they're proving they are inclusive.

    The American people are sick of their partisan hating. They are loosers – they lost the War in Ira

    January 31, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. Sheryl

    Steele is an idiot and has always been an idiot!. He is now the Republican's token!! I am sure they are laughing behind his back.

    January 31, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  11. Pedro

    George W. Bush is the best thing that ever happened to the democratic party.
    If Michael Steele is gonna act this way, he´s the second best thing that ever happened to the democratic party.
    "BIPARTISANSHIP IS OVERRATED"..!!!!

    Republicans are the party of division. They realllyyy need to go to Tibet for 3 years and do some soul searching.

    January 31, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. Pat

    Exactly what I was thinking, andrew. And if they want to just sit and watch, it's okay by me. Time's a wastin'.

    January 31, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. Mike

    CNN, this is an unfair misquote that you have used to title this article. Also, to the previous comment, Michael Steele never reminded us of his skin color, he only spoke about his mother and how her background and his upbringing taught him lessons in life that you all are ignorant of.

    I am confident in Michael Steele leading the GOP back into representing the American people. He listens to the youth, he's energetic and he's an experienced leader.

    Tell the Dems in Congress to showw some bi-partisanship like Obama has called for, remember, they shut out Republicans completely from this stimulus package, but yet expected a bi-partisan vote from them?

    January 31, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. barackobama4prez

    so glad he knows how to lose elections....because he's going to help GOP lose many of them in the future.

    January 31, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. Jason B.

    Hey, "Jacque Bauer", join the real world...life isn't as black and white as "24", the republican party, and you are trying to paint it.

    The selection of Steele is no different than when McCain picked Palin...a selection based on the person's race/gender/etc...rather than based on what's best for our suffering country.

    January 31, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. Susan

    In order to stay "in the business of winning elections", Republicans must know and understand that the American people will no longer allow their divisive, fear-mongering, threatening language and behaviors. That kind of maneuvering worked for a long, long time, but NO MORE!

    January 31, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. Kathy

    Steele –
    you were a blinded by power idiot when you were Lt. gov of MD and when u ran for senate and now you continue to be a blinded by power figurehead in the repub party. your party is using you and you can't and won't see that. you should where a big T on your shirt like that character on south park.

    January 31, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. stephanie

    can you say "uncle tom"?

    January 31, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  19. Ralph

    The GOP just doesn't get it.

    Whether it's calously mocking community organizers who commit themselves to helping the downtrodden or insisting on divisiveness, they are just out of touch.

    January 31, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  20. Seattle Sue

    Jacque Bauer@3:30 pm===Please list the laws/bills that the Democrats kept from going through these pas eight years. It seems to me that Bush got everything he wanted.

    January 31, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  21. Dave

    They only showed how meaningless their votes are and how little they regard the American People. The stimulus package will lessen the suffering of the 'little people'. I guess the Republicans don't care about them. They only want MORE tax cuts for the wealthy. Don't they see that we can see their real motives and they will never gain power as long as they don't side with the 'average Joe'.

    January 31, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  22. Nobody Knows

    The GOP has no clue why their brand is crap but that doesn't make much difference.... these fascist corporate enablers, socialist sell outs, are so full of themselves and are completely incapable of introspection..... you can't look at yourselves if you are blaming someone else....

    January 31, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  23. Larry Houston TX

    I Totally agree with most of these comments on this post, other than Mr. "Jacque Bauer"......

    It's amazing, isn't it ? McCain wanted to get the "Hillary Voters" by selecting a woman..........The RNC wants to get the "Non-White"
    Voters, by electing an African American.....

    They must think they can still take the White House back, in 2012, I guess........

    January 31, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. MavTX

    The Republican Party is pathetic. They are dinosaurs with no original ideas.

    Just as the majority of American voters overwhelmingly rejected Sarah Palin as a substitue for Hillary Clinton . . .the Republicans can not stick a black face (Michael Steele) in a GOP leadership position and think they're proving they are inclusive. What a CROCK!

    The American people are sick of their partisan hating. They are power-hungry loosers. Instead of taking a time out to fix themselves, they are so arrogant they still think they are right.

    So, keep thinking you're right Republicans – this way, God willing, you will never be in power again, and hopefully forever dismantled.

    Michael Steele is proving he's an idiot already. (Ha! Ha!)

    January 31, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  25. Tom

    He reminds me of Clarence Thomas! If he thinks separation and disagreeing with the POTUS is going to get them back in the majority he is dead wrong. The America people have spoken we are sick of the divisiveness. Steele you will lost and they will reject you – Please do not be another Clarence!

    January 31, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
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