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. S. Hellier

    Im hoping he can turn this party around. We need to moderate our positions because if we do not, we risk becoming a one party nation which does no one any good.

    February 1, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. we behaved badly?

    He means they lied.

    February 1, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. Lisa - Atlanta, GA

    The Republican Party again shoots itself in the foot. They put Palin in because they thought we wanted a woman. They put Steele in because they think we want a Black man. When will they see past all the superficial labeling to the real crux of the matter: We want our government to BE different, not LOOK different.

    February 1, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  4. Ken

    monkey see monkey do. A message to Republicans: Its NOT about being black – its your policies stupid.

    February 1, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    None of your candidates are going to be in a "position to win" until the Republicans back off from the self-righteous hypocrisy of claiming to respect the concept of individual rights and freedoms but simultaneously denying freedom to pregnant women and gays. They're not going to win by claiming to support freedom and then supporting measures like the PATRIOT Act that betray that very concept. They're not going to win by claiming to endorse smaller government while simultaneously endorsing measures (like NCLB) that make government more powerful and intrusive.

    For eight years, Republicans, you've proven over and over again that you're simply hypocrites. Get over that and you might get my vote again someday.

    February 1, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. sick n tired of CNN moderators

    This guy obviously isn't smart enough to see that the Republican party only chose him as their leader because he's BLACK! HELLO? ANYONE HOME IN THERE? Typical Republicans! They still have NO CLUE even after the American people spoke LOUD and CLEAR on Nov. 4th! They still just don't get it! Like they say, " you can put frosting on a turd sandwich but at the end of the day its still a turd sandwich"!!!

    February 1, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. kayla

    you are nothing but an uncle tom to the rnc.

    February 1, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. Romney2012

    By the way...let Obama know, that just because he waves his hand and says, "We'll no longer use the term, 'War on Terror," that it's not going to go away....

    February 1, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. Goldenmom

    Yes, less government, less regulation, less everything will work so well for America. Hear that folks? Get out there and make it happen on your own, never mind you got nothing and your kid is sick and you don't have a job. Less is more!

    How does it feel to get the job because two other guys dropped out? I thought that was what you Republicans were against, special treatment and all.

    February 1, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Nick - West Hills (L.A.), CA

    Congratulations, Mr. Steele, on winning the chairmanship of the Republican Party.

    You have some serious work to do to rebuild the GOP brand.

    Some advice to you, Sir:

    – Detach the party from the religious right, special interests, and the military industrial complex.

    – Pay attention to the needs of the majority of Americans, not just the rich.

    – Offer us leadership.

    – Be an example to the rest of the world.

    – Have more humility and less arrogance.

    – Do not treat intellectualism as a crime (like the former USSR used to).

    – Stop wrapping the America Flag around yourselves, calling anyone who does not agree with your visions unpatriotic.

    – Allow real science, and not dogma, to have a role in your policies and platforms.

    – Pay attention to the environment. Help preserve it for the future.

    – Dump the likes of Sarah Palin, and get some thinkers with world wide experience as candidates of your party.

    Then, and only then, will the GOP have a chance at relevance. And maybe even winning.

    I am an independent voter. I voted for Reagan. I voted for Obama.

    You have some work to do to get my vote back.

    Best of luck.

    February 1, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. Tony

    Another loud-mouthed, imbecilic republican!

    February 1, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. shoegazer

    "we behaved badly"....now there is an understatement,only to be matched by"It was about the fact that we failed to lead"...wow,two beauties in the same story.

    February 1, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    I hope the GOP is as irrevelent the next 8 years as it has been dangerous, decietful and destructive the last 12 years. Maybe they will become extinct like the dinasaur by then. With the likes of Sarah Palin and her PAC as an example of their new stripes... it is hopefully a done deal even with her "fringe following."

    February 1, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. MR. W


    February 1, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. Keith

    Sounds like it's requiem time requiem time for Rove's Permanent Republican Majority. Oh wait... the Episcopalians are long gone from the GOP. What is it the Deep South evangelicals do?

    February 1, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Fernando

    This guy is the epitome of lipstick on the pig

    February 1, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. Susan - Canada

    Oh....you poor guys....that's all Sarah Palin needs to hear...that she is seen by the Chairman of the R.N.C., as one the new faces of the party.

    Good luck....from your Canadian neighbour!

    February 1, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. Maggie SC

    All the people Steele mentioned have my approval if it counts which I feel it does not but am optistmic. My one drawback is Gov Stanfoird from SC. He is trying to close our local branch of USCL at Lancaster which wil cut out many many students futher education. That is a real shame. If he continues to support this idea then we need a new governor whoe interest lies in promoting SC and not leaving us behind. We have so much to off our country and if no school how can our intelligent youth go forth. How can they be a part of our future and economic growth if no one supports theri efforts.

    February 1, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. tman

    First the image of exclusiveness of the republican party has to be changed. It may prove difficult to shed the red neck image that people like former addict Rush gives it. Voices of distain and scorn such as Rush and Hannity do nothing good for bringing us together. People can disagree, but we must move forward together.


    February 1, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. Luke

    So let me get this straight. Hillary Clinton runs for the presidency and drops out; so the Republicans choose a female for the vice presidency in an effort to divide the Democratic party. Now, after the Democratic party elects the first ever African-American president, the Republican party chooses an African-American to lead their party? I do not in any way doubt this man's ability, however the timing of his leadership is quite frankly no coincidence at all.The Republican party might as well fire any party strategists and call up the Democrats each morning and ask "what should we do next?"

    February 1, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. Dan, TX

    But the "base" doesn't think it behaved badly, it thinks the evil liberals are to blame. As long as that is the excuse, the republican party is in trouble. I am glad Michael Steele is the new RNC chair, it is an important step. But as long as the base looks to Rush Limbaugh for leadership rather than Michael Steele, the party is not going to make progress.

    February 1, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Sue F

    Apparently Mr. Steele said today on the talk show circuit that the Republican Party doesn't need fixing and is just fine the way it is and needs to go back to the "Contract with America"" that Newt gave us?
    Apparently Mr. Steele had his head stuck in the sand during the last election. People are fed up with the status quo, they are even sicker of the Republicans and their "trickle down economic" theroies. Your way doesn't work there Mikey, your economic plans destroyed our country and economy, not to mention our standing in the world. The Real workers in this country want and need help now, and they aren't going to get it from giving more money to the CEO"S or Tax cuts for the wealthy or corporations. They will simply buy more private jets, send more jobs overseas and get large bonusus, while Rome Burns.
    So you keep talkin their buddy and hopeuflly the rest of your party will be destroyed.

    February 1, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. Mariann Pepitone

    This is the man who should have been campaigning for the presidency not John McCain. Steele will bring to the party a strong solution how to get the republican's to win senate seats. He has good strong values, well educated, christian, attorney and the right choice to bring the republicans back to the white house. I do not believe that Obama can really run this country. Closing Gitmo was a good move but moving the prisoners to Colorado would not be a good move. They need to be put in Alcatraz which is a big empty prison that should have been cleaned up years ago surrounded by the ocean with prison guards that you can trust to do their job the right way. No waterboarding. Steele would make a tremendous president and he doesn't have to be trained for the job. I hope he runs in four years because he is just what this country needs.

    February 1, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. Carl Justus

    If steele is counting on Sanford and Palin to help the party, then the republicans have elected the wrong man to head the RNC.

    February 1, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  25. katiebee

    The Grand Old Party is just that - old, out of touch, and a "regional" party at best. Making Steele RNC Chair is the same kind of move McCain made with SP - tastes great, less filling. Yes he was great as Lt. Gov of MD, but the state of Maryland is something that the RNC is not - diverse! Gettng that group to move into the 21st century, and think like 21st century Americans will take longer than 2 years, or even 4 years. I predict losses in NJ and in VA and in 2012.

    Obamaniac and proud of it.

    February 1, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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