February 1st, 2009
04:20 PM ET
9 years ago

New RNC chief weighs in on future of the GOP

Michael Steele was chosen Friday as the first African-American leader of the Republican Party.

Michael Steele was chosen Friday as the first African-American leader of the Republican Party.

(CNN) -Michael Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Sunday that there’s a number of Republicans emerging who will “redefine this party in a way that will be very good for us long term.”

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Steele was asked to name Republicans under the age of 50 who he sees as the new faces of the party.

Steele listed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Steele, who on Friday became the first African American to lead the RNC, said people have moved away from the Republican Party because “we behaved badly.”

“It was about the fact that we failed to lead. We grew the size of government. When we're saying we believed in less government, we grew government. When we said we believe in less spending, we spent more,” he said.

Steele said he thinks Republicans now have an opportunity to turn things around.

“That's my job, is to put good candidates in a position to win. Now, we're not going to win all of them, but we're going to start to win again in important races that matter, and we've got three of them coming up this year,” he said, referring to a special election in the 20th Congressional District in New York and gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey.

“We're going to be on the ground and engaged in all of those campaigns that are going to be important opportunities for us to re-establish the brand for the party, number one, but most especially, reacquaint ourselves with the voters and help them appreciate exactly what we stand for and what we believe, putting good candidates in a position to win.”

Filed under: Michael Steele
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Pat from Atlanta

    I'm a Democrat but also a democrat who believes in a two-party system. Good luck to you Mr. Steele. As long as Rush Limbaugh is the most powerful Republican, you're going to need it.

    February 1, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Meka

    Another INEFFECTIVE Leader. Steele, spends too much time on FOX NEWS!

    February 1, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. Eugene

    Before putting out "good candidates", maybe the GOP can begin over the next twenty years to ponder what of a positive nature the party does stand for other than "no". Do the candidates Steele mentioned have an established positive platform of creative ideas, or is "tax cuts" mostly for the rich their only religion?

    February 1, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    If the Repubs want turn things around;

    First,dump Palin. She is way too far to the right.

    Second. Don't listen to Limby, he talks divisiveness and hate, offers nothing of substance.

    Third. Turn away from the religious fanatics, they preach hate, bigotry and intolerance to anything or any group they find objectionable.

    Fourth. Listen to the mainstream and ALL the people, not just to the base. They're a small block and getting smaller.

    Fifth. Be inclusive to all, not just those whom the base approves.

    February 1, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Janet-NY

    Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. They all can be great leaders in the future of America. I do believe Michael Steele's strong and faithful leadership.

    February 1, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. JoeSixPack

    In a word: None.

    February 1, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Richard Larson

    Unless Republicans and Conservatives honestly develop party policies that are inclusiveand economically sound, they will very quickly become a minor, regional party. They must realize that morality and religious belief cannot be legislated. They must understand that unless they begin to act in accordance with true Biblical command, as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount, they will not be attractive to persons who believe that Christianity is Progressive in nature. They must understand that most people who work, prefer to have a union represent them and protect them from the depradations of an unregulated ownership. They must realize that the Constitution is a tough, yet fragile institution that must be protected for it to survive and be the beacon of freedom to the world that it has been for 200 years. Finally, they must begin to understand that the most successful, politically stable nations during the last 50 years have been the Christian / Social Democrat governments of western europe. Unfettered Capitalism has led this country to the brink of disaster. There is dire need of new economic thinking and an honest effort to understand that taxation is necessary for the people to realize their desire for freedom. That requires a government that is designed to answer to the will of all the people, not just a fanatical minority.

    February 1, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Carol, California

    I feel sorry for this man – he is being used. His appointment to this post will further damage the GOP's reputation, not change it.

    Liberals find it funny: the GOP is desperately trying to change their image by appointing an Obama lookalike. "Look Dems, we're cool too. We even have a Black friend.

    Conservatives will not approve of him. I can hear my older relative's reaction now: "They're", (meaning Blacks), "are taking over."

    Ultra right-wingers, who support the Palin types will NEVER go for this. This guy is not a "true American" (we all know what "true American" means and a Black guy isn't it).

    Blacks will see him as an Uncle Tom.

    It's unfortunate that Michael Steele is allowing himself to be used as a pawn. The Repubs are a joke.

    February 1, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Aaron B.

    Go Steele, I'm sooooo happy that your the head of the RNC

    Best news I have heard since Nov. 4th.

    Sincerely glowing. . . a Maryland Democrat.

    February 1, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Seattle Sue

    After Bush and Republicans for the past eight years, it take a very,very long time for the American people to trust the Republican Party, if our country survives the mess they have put us in.

    February 1, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. chuck


    February 1, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. No oxycontin, no kool-aid

    So how does the GOP propose to win back the voters they accused of being "immoral", "anti-intellectual", "godless", and "unpatriotic" because they didn't support the right-wing agenda? The damage is done. No amount of face painting is again going to fool voters into thinking the GOP has actually changed. They dug their own hole, now they can "lie" in it.

    Interesting how Mr. Steele thinks bi-partisanship is overrated, yet during the election, President Obama was relentlessly attacked for his supposed lack of bi-partisan support. Hypocrisy and lies are still very much of the GOP platform.

    I initially thought that Mr. Steele's new position was part of an attempt by the GOP to purge their party of the radicals and racists in an attempt to return to the Reagan years. I see now, through the cheap rhetoric, that they have no intention of working with the new congress and President, and will fight to win -no matter what they have to do. I am very much looking forward to 2010.

    February 1, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Edward Lawler

    It's good that you mentionseveral times in your article that Mr. Steele is Afro-American. It's seems like you want the other blacks that have held high positions in the party and cabinet are easily forgotten. Who was the first black to head the DNC, and how many were there?

    February 1, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Unknown

    I wonder if anyone besides me can see that this is a joke,and i wonder if Steele even see its a joke.But the sad thing is that its not very funny at all he and the republican party need to wake up.

    February 1, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  15. Cynthia

    Get over yourself you are just a token you don't really think that those good ole white boys are gonna actually let you make decisions, besides that you look like Ernie from Sesame Street. Duh! look in the mirror. Further more Rush is running the party and if you're not prepared to bend over and grab your ankles then what's the point.

    February 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. johnrj08

    The first thing he needs to do is revoke Gingrey's apology to Rush Limbaugh. What comes out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth never surprises me. What shocks me is that there are those who actually think the guy is a genius. Visit NewsBusters.org and read some of the adoring comments there about him. It's sad. Limbaugh is no different from Howard Stern, Imus, or any other radio personality. He has a shtick that has made him rich. Alice Cooper put on face-paint and became the original punker. Harrison Ford put on a Fred C. Dobbs hat and became Indiana Jones. Arnold pumped iron and became governor of "Caleevorneea". Limbaugh put on a right-wing fascist Halloween costume (which now includes a pony-tail) and giggles all the way to the bank. No degree in economics or political science. In fact, not even a college diploma. Never served a day in the armed forces. Nobody, especially the dreaded "liberals", should take a word this blow-hard says seriously. It is all designed to keep his name in the news and his ratings bloated. So, Carville is dead right when he says that Rush is an "entetaynah". Unfortunately, a lot of people do take him seriously and actually use his act to form their opinions. If Steele wants to lead the GOP out of the darkness, the first thing he needs to do is turn the lights out on Limbaugh.

    February 1, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. ac

    With the possible exception of Sanford, I fail to see how the "new faces" mentioned would amount to positive change, Steele included. Sorry, Try Again.

    February 1, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. catmom

    When I heard him on FOX this morning talking about education, he sounded quite a bit like President Obama. Are his views any different from Democrats?

    February 1, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Colin the Salesman

    Michael Steele needs to look at the math right now in places like New York. Districts that have not gone Democratic in a generation went to the Democrats because Republican have not done a thing to improve the lives of New Yorkers. In the last 14 years, we've had a Republican govenor( Pataki), 2 Republican mayors of NYC Giuliani and Bloomberg), an upstate delegation that was more worried about playing Washington politics (Bill Paxaon and Tom Reynolds), all initially supervised by a Republican Senator who was morally crippled and prided himself on hs pork barrel politics ( Al D'Amato). The Republican brand in NY is NOT going to be helped by Michael Steele ,who is ready to abandon his own history of being a moderate in order to appeal to the desperate White Southerners like Jim DeMint. In other words, a superficial change will not help them anywhere outside of the Deep South. New Jersey and Virginia are no different. When the Republican lose in 2010 and 2012, they will realize that pragmatism, not ideology is what people want. Its about results, stupid.

    February 1, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. Tom

    We can only hope Michael follows through on his promise to promote true conservatives, Not RINOs like McCain.

    February 1, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  21. Ed

    I don't know what is more disturbing. That the Reps put Steele in as a puppet or that Steele doesn't seem to realize it. If they think the Dems voted Barack Obama in just because he's black, they're in for another bad surprise in four years. I was thinking of changing party after the dismal fiscal mess Bush got us into but this has probably sealed the deal for me. I'm done.

    February 1, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. Now, prove it

    Steele seems to understand at least one major aspect of what's ailing Republicans – the fact that they went completely astray from their own core values. The next step is for them to not just sit back and harp on Democrats about spending, but to actually PROVE IT that they really are fiscal conservatives.

    But, they shouldn't be surprised if it takes another few years to regain that trust. Many people still disagree with their ideas, even when they do practice what they preach. For those that agree with their ideas, it's gonna take a long time for them to believe they won't blow it again. George W Bush was not only the bane of America, he's also the bane of the Republican Party. I predict the GOP has a few more years of exile before they make any gains, so better take a back seat and enjoy watching while Democrats work to fix up this country.

    February 1, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. Now, prove it

    It's gonna take a while before America sees the GOP with any credibility again, even for independent/conservative voters who agree with their ideas.

    February 1, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. Bill

    It's my own personal opinion that no one is going to revitalize the party unless they change their beliefs to reflect the times. Isn't it obvious to them that the world is becoming increasingly progressive and the majority are sick of many of their 18th-century oppressive ideals? Obviously not.

    February 1, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. Larry Houston TX

    Mr. Steele, I hope you read this post... You would have never been selected, nor would have the votes, IF Obama was elected as our current President, period........Your party would have selected Bobby Jindal or Pawlenty to be the RNC chair, since they best have the
    most "moderate conservative" views for your party.....Most people can read right through the selection, because you are sending a message that your party wants to "attract" the Independents / and the "moderate" liberals & such.....I know it will be a race to which party is going to put a "First" woman as President, so in essence, this is your first step, as people can see.

    February 1, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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