February 1st, 2009
04:20 PM ET
6 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. Mariann Pepitone

    There have been numerous comments about Steele and Palin on this board and the ABC board. Let me go on record to say these are the kind of people that will never accomplish anything in their lifetime and I am willing to bet neither did their parents. Steele and Palin set out their goals and mastered them. How many college students accomplish anything after graduating. Thousands of them. I think Steele will have the republicans back on track and there will be changes in the senate and house. We also need a change of housespeaker Nancy Pelosi. Thank goodness Howard Dean retired. He should after he did his dirty work doublecrossing Hillary Clinton on the delegates from MI and FL and Nancy Pelosi making deals with the superdelegates to switch their vote to Obama.

    February 1, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Erik in Real Pennsylvania

    What he neglected to mention was that many people abandoned the GOP because the "family values" agenda became too onerous. The party should forget about re-creating a Leave-it-to-Beaver nation that never actually existed in the first place, and return to the bedrock basics of conservatism: smaller government, fewer taxes, a free market economy, personal liberty and minding our own business overseas. Oh, wait, no need to change the Republican Party! Those values are held by the Libertarian Party. Join them instead.

    February 1, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. Tom

    Go right ahead, Richard. You and Palin just lead the GOP right off the cliff. People chose Obama not because the GOP wasn't GOP enough but because 8 years of the GOP taken to its logical extreme drove us into a ditch. So full speed ahead with your approach, Richard. Make it easy for Obama to win again in 2012. That would truly be a public service that you can do for the nation and the world.

    February 1, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Renee

    As a African-American and conservative, the election of Michael Steele makes it abundantly clear that the Republican Party is lost and has decided to resort to gimmicks.

    Michael Steele was not the best choice to head the RNC and he is also not respected by a vast majority of the African American community.

    February 1, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Interesting....what Steele fails to understand is that when the federal government gets smaller, it also has less capacity to protect the rights of minorities like Jindal (Asian), Palin (woman), and ...well....himself...from active discrimination.

    Talk about an "I got mine...so the rest of you can lump it" philosophy of running a party.

    Clearly, the Republicans aren't going anywhere under this kind of leadership.

    February 1, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. Big Ed

    The first thing the RNC needs to do is to flush Rush and put a muzzle on Ann Coulter. THAT would be change. That won't happen and the Republicans won't change. They have been talking for years and there has been no change other than what they allowed "W" to do to our country. Thanks for nothing, Republicans!

    February 1, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. Lee in TN

    I hope the party sees it's most serious failing of allowing over the edge neo-conservitives to take over the party. These radicals have turn their back on working America for contributions to their "campaign funds" by big business. They have also used Evangelical Christians such as I. These autoritarian neo-conservatives love to shout about key issues such as abortion, and then do nothing about it, even while holding the Presidency, a majority in both the House and Senate and holding the Vice Presidency which can break a tie in the Senate. It seems the republican party can no longer claim they are the party morals and ethics!

    February 1, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    Steele will need more than luck to redefine the GOP. So far it is Rush Limbaugh and the extreme conservative wing of the party setting the tone and direction. Future isn't very bright if the torch bearers are Palin, Hucklebee, and Romney. The lack of political and intellectual leadership in the GOP is astounding.

    February 1, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Bridg

    I've got news for your lap dog, THE GOP HAS NO FUTURE!

    February 1, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. nick

    Mr. Steele.
    It is good to hear that the republican party, lost it's way for the past 8 years. Now is the time for the republican party to offer an apology to the american people for past errors in judgement. And, to get repulicans elected who will work for the people, and not just for the party... Only then will your efforts be rewarded..
    By the way, I hope you were not serious in naming Sarah Palin as an up an coming , young hope, for our party.

    February 1, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Humored In Texas

    America elects its first President of "color" and in a pure coincidence, the GOP, who have never in recent memory had time for people of "color," select an African-American as RNC Chairman.

    Purely coincidental, right?!

    Sure it is, and if you believe that, you'll believe that Halliburton grew as a defense contractor more on their integrity than the fact that VP Cheney was the former CEO!

    February 1, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Lisa in Az

    I think he is really missing the key to why the Republican party is flailing. It doesn't have to do with big spending, sorry Steele. it has to do with the social conservatives telling EVERYONE what is American and what is not. It has to do with them mixing church and state and representing themselves as the "moral" party who looks down. And just because he is black, that does not take away from the very low numbers of blacks and minorities and gays too in the Republican party. They are backwards, Focusing on small government is a stupid move. Americans do not care about small or large. They just want the economy to be doing better and for their lives to be better.

    February 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. Chris Mulhauser

    I find this to be a completely transparent, mealy-mouthed, and borderline offensive ploy on the part of the RNC. Good luck trying to be relevant.

    February 1, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. A Really Conservative Realist

    Liberals hate him.....because he is black. Ironic, wouldn't you agree.

    February 1, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. Trollmaster

    The Repubilcan plan will be this:

    Act fiscaly conservative, then go back to their old borrow and spend/warmongering/If you don't agree with me then you hate America ways.

    Real conservatives need to form their own political party, the Republicans are corrupted beyond repair.

    February 1, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    this man is such a joke.... isn`t it ironic that now the republicans have voted for their first african american chair... do u all really think the american people are really that stupid. come on, your counterpart mr. mccain tried the same thing with sarah palin in order to snag hillary clinton supporters... and we all see how wonderfully that worked.. you all need to get with the program

    February 1, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. Bob in Austin, TX.

    Instead of worrying about campaigns and candidates, why don't you people work on doing the job that your employers (the American public and not the political parties y'all are so loyal to) sent you to Washington to do... That is to work in the best interests of the majority of us... not just your top campaign donors,

    February 1, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. Survivor

    DISMAL! Amen.

    February 1, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Kathy

    Good luck Mr. Steele, I have reat respect for you. I think the Rep. party will return when people see just how screwed up thing will be in 4 years. Hang in there!!! I'm behind you.

    February 1, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. Al

    The only reasonable action for moderate conservatives seems now to get out of this party of extremists.

    February 1, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. juanita

    where the hell is obama were is all the help the people need.they need food water etc.whereis it.he made all these promises and already broke them he is just like every other on we have had god bless and god help us now its to late................................

    February 1, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Texas Trail Kitty

    OMG! Is the Repulican party kidding us? They couldn't find a qualified black man UNTIL President Obama surfaced? That party even tried to run on his ideas when they figured out that they didn't have any. Well good luck to the new captain of the Titanic.

    February 1, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. Steve (the real one)

    The GOP will be back stronger than ever IF, they re-embrace their conservative roots again! I know you Uncle Tom calling, crab in a barrel mentality, small minded lemmings don't feel too good about that! Oh well!

    February 1, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. ran

    The Republicans' problems will not be helped by the color/gender of their people. It is their policies(far right religious ideologies/anti-abortion/gay rights/tax cuts for the wealthy/party before country.) those are the things that need to change. It did them no good when they put Palin on the ticket thinking people would vote for her because of her gender. Giving what the Republicans are doing with the economic stimulus only shows they still do not get it.

    February 1, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. Byron

    Here's a slogan for the RNC... "Let's work together to divide America"

    February 1, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
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