February 1st, 2009
04:20 PM ET
5 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. linda in PA

    And what evidence is there to prove that Republicans will turn things around. The country can't afford to gamble…at least not now.

    February 1, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. M.E

    He's just a puppet. The GOP is just using him because they going really bad right now, and this idiot is so excited... of his victory, that he probably do not even realize what happening. They want to save their image, they want to show to the minorities that they and the conservatives are not racist. It is a game, Republicans are very, very smart. I give them that. After Sahara Palin, it is Steele!!!!! Good job Republicans. We'll see.....what's gonna happen next.

    February 1, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Angela

    What the heck does that last paragraph even mean? It's total cotton candy: it looks substantial but when you bite into it, there's nothing there.

    February 1, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. Larry Houston TX

    Please, please Sarah, run for President in 2012. I and many other independents want to see how well you do against Hucklebee, Romney and all the other Reps who will run against you. You could barely handle old Joe Biden (who by the way, is younger than fossil McCain); Biden treated you with kid gloves and let you get away with winking, flirting and refusing to answer questions. Do you think that Hucklebee, Romney and all the other Rep candidates will do the same? They will tear you to pieces.

    February 1, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. abc ~ anything but california hugh

    Talk about bad timing! The GOP finally admits that their party failed, then doctor up this fake excuse that they were guilty of overspenting! Did they? Of course, the government under their watch spent untold billions of dollars to fund the war in Iraq, but this is just another half-truth.

    Now they accuse the democrats of the same thing. The real reason the republicans failed is that they ruined the economy through the policies of "trickle down economics" and de-regulation. This is just another typical republican tactic to try and stall the opposition.

    The problem is, if they succeed against the democrats President Obama will fail as well, but the real losers will be the American people. With the worst economy since the Great Depression, this is not the time for the GOP to continue partisan politics, with the "spin game."

    February 1, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. Simmy

    Only a fool would trust them to turn anything around, since they are the ones that messed it up in the first place. Remember President Bush.........Mr. Steele, pleaseeeeeeeee!

    February 1, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. peggyledbetter

    The Republicans are stupid than i thought they were!!! America see exactly what they are trying to do.....NOT WORKING!

    Vote No More Republicans!!!!!

    February 1, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. Drew

    Best of luck on getting the GOP back together. There's a lot of work to do.

    February 1, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. lila

    Sen. Susan Collins and Tim Pawlenty 'get it'. What Steele and republicans are trying to do is paint a picture that Bush and the republicans were acting like democrats and that is why everything went to rot under them. That is not the case. The reason things went to rot from under them is because they walked a tight ideological line and ran an "us vs them" White House. If the republican leadership had not been strong arming and bent on politically destroying any who spoke out they might have not dug us all so deep in so many holes. It's funny how people are saying Obama is losing the stimulus on a political front because what I see is a leader who is not forcing it down before all sides have had a say. The bill it not great.. but it is getting better all the time. That's leadership. That's what the republicans failed at for the last 8 years and what Steele seems to not 'get'.

    February 1, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. Jo Jo

    If he thinks what went wrong with Republicans was the spending and growing government, they will continue to lose.

    February 1, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  11. Franky

    Yep, just like the boys were worried, nothing but mood swings...good luck on that.

    One minute they are fine and their wives are not cheating the next minute, the wife has left the scene. Jeez GOP, man up!! I give props to Steele for manning up but even we don't believe him. You want advice? Integrity, there you go, for starters work from there...

    February 1, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. Zion

    Congratulations to Steele. As a black Republican, I wish you well, but I am also concerned. See, many whites want to be congratulated for recognizing potential in blacks. The moment you step out of line, you will no longer be an American, but you will be a black man who is failing in leadership. I find it amazing that this country waits until the US is about to fall into the toilet and the Republican Party is on the verge of crumbling into the abyss, that we now see the need to have black leadership. God bless, both you and President Obama.

    February 1, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. Ed

    He's right about one thing, after the disaster of the Bush years, there's no place but up for the Republican party to move. But I still don't put it past them to need another election failure or two to figure out that to be relevant, the Republican party needs to appeal to more than just the redneck demographic (i.e., move to the center) and as Steele points out, mean what they say and be intellectually honest.

    February 1, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. Eyes Open

    The GOP is so reactive. Blagojevich Part II.

    February 1, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. Sue

    Ah, but do any of the listed Republicans actually see anything wrong with the way they've been governing? Palin was in Washington specifically to lobby for projects for her state-a state that by her own admissions has a huge surplus due to the money they take from oil companies. How does sending more money to a state that already receives the lion's share of fed dollars help create jobs anywhere else? She may be attractive, but she has proven that she cannot appeal to mainstream Americans, those who care about more than the world they can see from their doorway. And the reason she did no interviews? She didn't want to talk about her PAC, fundraising, and plans. She is being told to keep quiet, and for once, is listening.

    February 1, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. Jon Davis

    Some 93% of delegates to the Republican National Convention were white, and a fairly large number of Republicans , especially from the South and Intermountain West are racist white supremacists.

    So putting a token black face in front of a crowd of intolerant white Neanderthals who want to take America back to the Stone Age doesn't make the GOP any more relevant or believable.

    But it is nice to see that numbskulls like Sarah Palin come in all sizes, shapes, colors and sexes.

    February 1, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Liberal for Life

    You Republicans will never change. Don't you see it is not about how big government or how much is being spent, it is about how you treat people as individuals and your priorities for the people of your country. Stop the judging. And how dare Steele say that Sarah Palin is what the GOP needs as a new face to the party. She is the main one that ended the GOP, not George Bush.

    February 1, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. Mike

    Chairman Steele is right, the GOP is making a comeback!

    February 1, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  19. DAnnara

    It is going to take a lot more to convince me that the GOP is willing to change it's ways, and throw out the extremists who hijacked the party, than making Steel chairman.
    The haters at the helm have bankrupted my country contrary to the chant of "fiscal responsibility". Pro-life means killing hundreds of thousands over seas and letting folks go homeless, hungry, and unhealthy at home. The Constitution and Bill of Rights have been interpreted to deny the individual and empower the "saviors".
    Fool me once......
    (Fifty year old former GOP supporter, now an Independent)

    February 1, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. Kevin

    I feel the Bush administration was so bad that people won't believe Steele this time around when he says the party believes in less government and less spending. The nation has seen what unfettered Republican control does for Americans and it was not pretty. That is unless you were already rich anyway. Cling to the old ideals and kiss your behinds goodbye. Talk is cheap.

    February 1, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. RiggsMD KC,,Mo

    He's doing to have a very hard time with the hard-liners that are not going to be so acceptable to an African American running anything in their party which was founded in a racist time and format. Good Luck!!!!!!!!

    February 1, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. Michiganian

    I have no idea how they're going to tell us what they believe in...they all supported Bush policies, didn't they? If Obama in some way manages to save this country from a Depression, no one will beat him in 2012..not even Mrs. Palin, who showed her true colors this weekend, jetting into Washington to LOBBY for dollars for Alaska. How is that change? How is that reaching people? Since Ted Stevens, who she called "honorable" in her SOTS speech recently, can't get money inserted into bills, and she must have fired her paid Washington lobbyists, she will now do it herself, using PAC money to jet around the country. Good luck with that...guess what, Sarah? There is no money! But then, the Republicans would prefer a depression, even though they say they care about the nation...they would prefer that we all lose our jobs, homes, savings...so they can blame it on Dems. Yup, those pols all want to work together for a better country.

    February 1, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. S Callahan

    Jindall seems to have a good command of getting his message across via media, and he is likeable. I would certinaly encourge that effort be made through him. Please, put the dream aside for Sarah and give her a talk show...you can't recapture this.

    February 1, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  24. S Callahan

    ps..you want to win NYS 20th..you better consider Faso

    February 1, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  25. Sue lou

    Not with Palin you won't turn things around........she was the one bashing Obama wiith all her lies and the lies of the Republican party,something the people of this country will not forget........and this weekend in Washington, she didn't have any interviews scheduled, but did you just see the spot she did on TV for the SuperBowl? She had to sneak in there and put in her 2 cents worth...........she just can't stay out of the media, she wants her picture all over TV but she doesn't want to give any interviews cause she knows she isn't smart enough and that she will mess up again just like she did with Katie Couric, so what do you think if she runs for President, she wil have to be interviewed and if she avoids them then she will be showing the people of this country exactly what we already know..........No Brains Palin..............

    February 1, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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