January 31st, 2009
03:12 PM ET
3 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. Reality

    The Constitution was created to protect all people from the tyranny of the majority. Right now, the majority believe our President is a messiah and incapable of mistake (never mind his blatant corruption). Bravo to Michael Steele for remembering that political parties do serve a function, despite what the media wants you to think.

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

    I really do not know what to say about Steele. I personally feel he is being used by the Republican party to get the minority vote. Take a look at who he was tied with while running for the chairmanship, a guy who belonged to an all white country club and another who wrote a song about the "magic negro", what choice did the other participants have? I have watched this man agree with Hannity on his show and honestly this person did not have one positive statement about Obama or any other minorities, suddenly he has changed and wants people to vote for the Republican party, because they lost the election? Where were the Blacks, Latinos and Asians when he won the chairmanship, not a one in the crowd, Mr. Steele, do not insult the intelligence of the American people, we made our choice, Thanks, but no thanks!

    January 31, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. Solnam

    I think Steele doen't learn anything from GOP defeat, and Republican
    needs to use this less mature guy.

    January 31, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  4. Chris

    This is not a shock coming from a Republican. They don't care about anything other than their own narrow worldview. They try to broaden their appeal by pandering choices like Palin for VP or Steele as RNC chair. I don't think moderates are buying it though.

    It's funny to see a republican talk about balancing a budget when it was 8 years of Republican policies that ran up this current colossal debt and created an economic meltdown. Steele has all the credibility of a used car salesman.

    January 31, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  5. Wayne

    This is not the way to deal with a president with an approval rating of 71 percent

    January 31, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Either you're with us, or you're against us.

    January 31, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  7. Ben

    Mr. Steele, it is not about winning elections but about doing what is right for the country. If you are in the business of winning elections, why couldn't you win your own Senate race in 2006?

    Mr. Steele, it is not about winning elections but about doing what is right for the country. If you are in the business of winning elections, why couldn't you win your own Senate race in 2006?

    You seem to have started off wrongly from the blocks. Playing to the failed ideological rhetoric that is very divisive and has no viable alternative concrete suggestions is bad for the country. It is a shame that all 177 Republicans in the House voted against President Obama’s Recovery Plan. Such group thinking and action by the House Republicans is the worst stupid political stunt ever and that is not what the American people are looking for at this time. You are not standing up for the American people by being mere obstructionists. And for you to applaud it is a shame and spells failure for you because you seem not to get it.

    The RNC is bankrupt of ideas and America has moved on from the cultural wars and divisive politics. The RNC failed ideology has turned America into a third world country. Take a look at China, Singapore, Brazil, Japan, Russia, etc then you would realize how the failed RNC ideology has kept the country from being the, or even a world leader in economic growth and development, climate change and green technology, science, and even moral leadership.

    January 31, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  8. Tom an American

    Republicans against Recovery Plan, read Cheating America: How Tax Avoidance and Evasion by the Super Rich Are Costing the Country Billions". Then tell me how you are entitled to any opinion after voting in the last president who actually gave tax cuts to the untaxable rich. Oh and in case you were wondering the top 1% have gotten out of paying taxes in the amount of, what was that number again, oh yeah 850 billion. Does that number sound familar? So before you start complaining about not tax cuts lets remember that they mean nothing because the wealthiest americans don't need tax cuts because they already have them. You should trying listening for once rather than pretending to be experts on the what will make the economy work. It is your lack of oversight the last 8 years that has gotten us into this mess. So go ahead stomp your feet push against trying something different just like a two year old who doesn't want to try green beans because they look "icky". You better wise up Republicans. The world is changing and conservatives like Mr. Limbaugh know it. So Republicans pick up a book, open your eyes, try listening to one of those brainy liberal democrats because they do read and they do listen.

    January 31, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. xargaw

    This guy has no ethics. Of course that makes him a perfect Republican. He thinks bipartisanship is over rated. Perhaps someone could ask him to explain how gridlock and obstructionism has worked out. From the vantage point of most Americans, it has been an utter failure. On the other hand, since the DEMs have the Whitehouse, the Senate and the House, perhaps we don't need bipartisanship so much after all.

    January 31, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  10. Joan

    How do you stand with the American people when your party got slammed at this past election? If you don't move to the middle – simply said.....you will get slammed again. Then – maybe the Republicans will get it. But – for sure....they don't get it now. All one has to do is listen to the fool R.L., and their 'elected officials' in Congress. This party is definitely in denial. How pathetic b/c they be using this time to help this country instead of taking the low road. Voters will remember....they always do. Example: GWB!! John McCain was doomed before he began.

    January 31, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  11. G in BR

    "I'm in the business of winning elections" It sure will be nice when the republicans stop thinking about re-taking the nation and start thinking about HELPING the nation. It appears to be quite honorable to show that you will oppose anything proposed by the president or the democratic party whether it is good for the country or not. If its not proposed/supported by the republican party, its not right. Sounds pretty unpatriotic to me. Great way to show the country how we should come together and SOLVE some problems during these times!!! I'll bet your mom would be really proud of you Mr. Steele!!!!

    January 31, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  12. Caroline

    Steele isn't the head of the RNC; Rush Limbaugh is really in charge. Steele would be wise to remember he is merely a token.

    January 31, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  13. clarissa

    The chairman is a fool like the rest of the GOP!!! They don't get it!!!! It was alright to give the wealthy huge tax cuts for 8 years that is the reason we are in this mess. These fools don't know how to bring the country together!!!! All they know how to do is divide the country NOT THIS TIME!!!
    Clarissa

    January 31, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  14. Brian Smith

    So this proves it again – all the Republicans with intelligence got picked for Obama's cabinet and transition positions. All that is left of the Republican party is Limbaugh, Palin, and this guy? And they think people will follow them to retaike power? HA! good one.

    January 31, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  15. carlos.r.king

    Thanks CNN for reporting on the comments of the new RNC Chairman, Michael Steele.

    Your report answered a recurring question I had as to what type of African American would seek to become so intimately involved with the Republican party: A Roman Catholic Conservative, of course.

    I rather doubt any self respecting Liberal Protesting would contemplate becoming a Republic in its present form.

    Carlos.
    Kingston, Jamaica

    January 31, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  16. Bruce

    "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."

    Taking money out of his/my pocket, young man, you had no money and your pockets were hers, she put those phants on your ungrateful hide and when your parents raised you, the money they had was their money, money they worked for, how dare you twist the truth, for sound bite.

    Your Party the Republican party has redistrubuted wealth for years and now you want to say, it's bad, well ok, but you better start talking about how your goingto first redistribut, that wealth back to those your Party took it from. I' m soory resistributed away from and you did not, just take from the rich, you took it from the treasury, the same general Fund, my tax dollars go into, the same general fund, sale taxes go into.

    Where did you Republicans, get this guy from, Planet blackman, is he suppose to be the Republican version of Obama, well the main stream, the present majority is not and will not be buying what a colored over Party is selling, so when you see he is not the answer, let him down easy.

    January 31, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. Ericka

    It is like the gift that keeps on giving, while our country is in real trouble all the GOP is good for is throwing mud. It looks like their base will continue to shrink.

    January 31, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  18. C.T.

    Black Roman Catholic Conservative!!!!! Wonder if momma learned to balance the books fom her overseer. I don't see how she could take anything from him to balance the books if he lived on somebody els's far. Now that's a BROTHER on coolaid.

    January 31, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. Tesor

    He and the RNC are just as out of touch as all the other rich wallstreet types. What American people is he talking about? Did he just miss the November election were the American real people said "NO MORE"? As long as people like this resist what must be changed we are in for a long eight years.

    January 31, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  20. Dave

    "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."

    But, we just voted to put people into power who would do that. I don't mind cutting CEO pay from 80 times the lowest paid employee to 8 times the lowest paid employee. Wealth redistribution is what these people are all about. They just prefer it go to a few instead of many.

    January 31, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  21. John Franklin Mason

    Controversy over economic stimulus and recovery begs the question whether private enterprise or government should preside over America's fate and standard of living in the twenty first century. President Barack Obama, having been elected to office by a comfortable but not overwhelming margin and possessing statesmanlike qualities, advocates both. Conservatives are inclined to let the private sector take the lead while Liberals prefer to empower the federal government.

    With the nations major financial, service and industrial corporations bankrupt, failing or corrupt institutions, moneyed investors are shying away from investing in stock, bond and money markets instead seeking the relatively safe security and low yielding umbrella of the United States treasury notes to ride out a deepening recession and possible emerging depression.

    Conservative Republican disdain for government intervention in private sector enterprise and for government entitlements evidenced in their statements and wholesale refusal to support the majority Democrats economic recovery plan. Preferring instead to implement significant tax relief in the belief that in retaining more of their money the public sector would invest in the markets and markets would naturally aspire to recover itself. Also, Republicans claim that intervention by the federal government would mean the end of the capitalist system and the beginning of a Socialist State.

    Democrats believe the situation requires fundamental changes and the restoration of regulations and oversight in business and government. Also, immediate relief for families and businesses as well as developing job programs targeted at repairing, improving and upgrading the nations infrastructure and environment. Other Liberal priories include education and affordable health care.

    Having control of the White House and both chambers of congress Democrats certainly will prevail. However, given the size and scope of the investment already made by the previous administration and congress in addition too that which will be made by this administration and congress (a total approaching two trillion dollars) Congressional Republicans should realize that even though at best they can expect to make modest contributions to the economic recovery plan they can be of significant value in moderating and ensuring proper oversight in awarding contracts, dispensing and accounting of funds and overseeing the integrity and completion of projects.

    Given the magnitude and complexity of the economic plan tremendous opportunities abound for abuse and corruption. Seldom, if ever, has a party in control of the Presidency, House and Senate not suffered from high incidents of indiscretion, deceit and fraud. Were Republicans not to conciliate they will be barred from any meaningful participation and would be doing their constituents and nation a disservice. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are innocent in setting the precedence of power in politics yet Conservatives can be instrumental in changing the status quo.

    January 31, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  22. scy

    HAHAHA What a toady. In just a few weeks, the Dems are gonna have 60 Senate seats. I agree . . . bi-partisan is overrated.

    You go GOP. Hold your breathe til you turn blue. You are not only no longer wanted, you are no longer needed.

    January 31, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  23. Chris from Va. Beach Va

    TOKEN STEELE.. NO MORE TO BE SAID

    January 31, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  24. Darryl from MD

    Is it me or does anybody else see whats going on here? When Obama didt put Clinton on his ticket Repub's choose Palin.And when Obama won they went out and got the first black man they can find to head there committee. Does anyone else see this pattern?

    January 31, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  25. Adam

    I don't recall the GOP complaining while wealth was being redistributed up the ladder for the last eight years. Republicans are basically saying, Let's stick with what hasn't worked.

    January 31, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
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