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. what a coincidence

    Congrats RNC for moving forward thru Steele's selection. I think only good can come of this and if it's a stunt it will fail.

    RNC/Steele: It's foolish for the Republicans to turn down Obama's repeated offers of bipartisanship – the Democrats have control and don't need your votes to help our country recover. Like Rush you better hope they fail or your years are numbered. Keep it up – your inner ugliness is on full display.

    January 31, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  2. MD

    Steele? A simulacrum. As real as the RNC can get. An impressionistic copy of Obama, but from the right. As Palin was intended to be the Everywoman, Steele is intended as the capable Everyman. For too long Republicans have played with the smoke and mirrors of their political symbols and economic philosophy. And now, they are condemned to see the world inaccurately reflected back through it. Unfortunately for them, poverty, illness, unemployment, lack of education, etc., are quite real, not merely the chakra of political posturing.

    January 31, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  3. Sue

    Great ! Another "all aggressive talk, no action politician" – stuff the American people, the Republican Party will take care only of the party, and the politicians's pocket !

    January 31, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  4. whotoo

    Steele should be thankful that Obama was elected to the presidency. Had it not been Obama's election it would have been impossible for the RNC to have appointed oops! "elected" to the position he has now.
    He is been used by the RNc as a skitgoat to get African-Americans' votes.

    January 31, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. ron

    as an african-american republican, and a radio talk show host who is not rabidly right wing, it was heartening to see mr. steele selected. but, it goes deeper than color, and deeper than extreme views on both sides of the aisle...it will be a task indeed for mr. steele to attract the needed additional members to our party, and still please those rabid right wingers that have caused us to lose the last several elections. some commons sense, less bluster and threats, and more work for the benefit of the country, not the party...those elements should be included in mr. steele's agenda...whether or not we can control our rabid-base and the dems can control theirs will determine where our country, and consequently our party, we be in the future....

    January 31, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  6. YOLA


    January 31, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  7. Chipster

    Steele described his goals clearly. He is in the business of winning elections, not serving the best interests of his country. Voters have rejected this "my way or the highway" attitude and its devastating effects over the past 8 years. If Republicans continue to implode, they will surely be replaced; either by more moderate Republicans or Democrats. Ir would be unwise for them to continue this stubborn allegiance to failed supply-side economic policies, alienation of our allies, religious fanaticism, and dangerous constitutional violations.

    January 31, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. Lisa Hampton Newark, NJ

    Steele was a token selection. The Republicans are hypocrites. They only chose Steele for purely political reasons. Obama proved to the world he is qualified. Steele is a big joke! Steele can never measure up to Obama.

    January 31, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. Angela from Miami.

    It is good to see that the Republican party can recognize black people. For the very first time. The Democrats have taught them something.

    Another lesson you Mr. Republican and your other white, rich repubs can learn is to let everyone live and let others live. It is not just for the few.

    You should be feeling very akward in your new party – the "white party".

    January 31, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  10. mike,texas

    If Giving zero votes is bipartisan than what is partisan?

    January 31, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  11. Doug in New Mexico

    Another not so sharp tack. Just where do the Republicans did them up?

    January 31, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  12. what a coincidence

    "Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you've already said that!" ok then post it please

    January 31, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  13. Benjamin

    This is a free country and that's what separates us from other nations in this world. Democracy defined by a constitution and amendment rights are why people around the world want to come to America. We as African Americans have advocated for equal opportunity, no more, no less. Therefore we respect and understand the RNC for choosing one of us to head the GOP. Perhaps we have come full circle with equality. Okay enough of that, now let's work together to make this world safe ands productive. It's about time, don't you think????/

    January 31, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  14. Dieter

    Uncle Tom Steele

    January 31, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. Gia

    Ignorance still is bliss apparantely.

    January 31, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Gotta Be Kidding


    January 31, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  17. ryan

    "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"

    wow- a talking point of McCain and Palin in the prez race...ridiculous

    January 31, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  18. LettuceB1

    Republicans call people RINO (Republican In Name Only).

    This man reminds me of a BICO (Black In Color Only)
    Let the selling out begin!

    January 31, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  19. Monica

    That's the repugs for you...let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer...trickle down economics... and guiliani doesn't have a problem with fat cat wall street bonuses either...get with the program!!!

    January 31, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. andy

    so the gop is now running on the notion that people who are struggling wouldn't like people who are making millions to share their wealth? way to have your finger on the pulse of this country.

    January 31, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  21. Jon Davis

    As a lieutenant governor who lost his Congressional bid, I'd say Steele is ready to be president...of Illinois.

    January 31, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  22. Lynn in CT

    It seems to me that the Republican Party refuses to recognize why so many of us have left the party. I no longer believe the Republican Party represents and stands for the American people, they stand for themselves. The pettiness which is constantly displayed by prominent Republicans is disgraceful. Their hypocrisy is blatant. Isn't this the same party that blasted Obama for not being bipartisan as a Senator?

    January 31, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  23. Ray from CA

    So working together is overrated?
    Ya this guy is stupid.

    January 31, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  24. Independent

    Stupid. If you think that's the way we're going to get this country back on track, you'd better call your mother and get her balance this country's budget. It is republicans who at first brought us where we are and they are the ones who are blocking the stimulus so we don't get out of this situation. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Do you really love this country? Do you really stand for the great people of this country? You got to be kidding!

    January 31, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  25. James

    Partisanship is the way to go, for Democrats and Republicans. You advocate for your ideas. Bipartisanship sounds nice and it's a great way to get votes, but the end product is usually a watered down, neutralized bill that does nothing you want it to. President Obama should FIGHT for the progressive agenda, not pander to people who won't give him the time of day.

    January 31, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
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