February 19th, 2009
02:16 PM ET
5 years ago

RNC chair plans 'off the hook' campaign, tells critics to ‘stuff it’

Steele plans an agressive PR push for his party.
Steele plans an agressive PR push for his party.

(CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party is going to launch an "off the hook" public relations campaign that will update the GOP’s image by translating it to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."

The new GOP leader told the Washington Times that the party’s defeat in states like North Carolina and Virginia made it clear they needed a new approach.

“We need messengers to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, a cross section...” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

He added, jokingly, that “we need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.”

Steele described the new multi-platform PR offensive as “avant-garde, technically. It will come to [the] table with things that will surprise everyone - off the hook.” Asked whether that meant cutting-edge tactics, Steele demurred. “I don't do 'cutting-edge,’” he said. “That's what Democrats are doing. We're going beyond cutting-edge.”

Steele, who began a massive personnel overhaul at the RNC shortly after his election, said he has started meeting weekly with congressional Republicans. He said he’ll be gathering input from House and Senate leaders, not giving instructions - but criticized national Republican leadership’s focus on party unity as a top priority, saying the failure to devote itself instead to developing fresh faces had cost the GOP.

“We missed the mark in the past, which is why we are in the crapper now,” he said. “We had the White House, the Senate and the House and were not building a farm team over the last years. We could have been ahead of Democrats and their 50-state strategy.”

Steele dismissed the assessments of some Republicans that he needs a deputy to handle areas like logistics, fundraising and candidate recruitment. “I can run this organization just fine,” he said. “There will be no deputy chairman, period. ...People who said I can't make the trains run on time never gave a reason. I say to them, 'Stuff it.'

“I am not afraid of being held accountable for my leadership,” he said. “The idea I am somehow going to handicap myself before I begin is nuts. I am not going to buy into this mind-set among a few people who probably have never run anything but their mouths.”

Steele defeated a crowded field last month, including sitting RNC chairman Mike Duncan, to claim the party’s top spot.


Filed under: Michael Steele • RNC
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. carlo

    He's not going to last long. Rush is making calls now, proclaiming that Steele wants to turn the GOP into "hip hop mania". Steele sounds like one of those ignorant white people who have never been around black people and get all their information about other cultures from FOX and BET. He had Mike Tyson for a brother in law. I'm sure he knows what he's saying is an insult to all people.

    February 19, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Bill S

    Is this a joke? The RNC is going to alienate the few supporters they have left.

    February 19, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. VLY

    Seriously?

    "Joking" about people being one-armed-midgets probably isn't the best way to start...

    February 19, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. Jackson, Seattle

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party is going to launch an "off the hook" public relations campaign that will update the GOP’s image by translating it to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."
    ______________

    Yo yo yo boyeeeeeee, J to the I to the N to the D to the A to the L...

    how about L to the A to the M to the E

    yeah yeah yeah boyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    what next, Flavor of GOP Charm School?

    February 19, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. obama-mama

    Ha ha ha ha ha....this guy is a RNC Clown. This should be interesting.

    February 19, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    in the crapper? what a class act!

    the new "getting jiggy with it" GOP.... what a pack of fools!

    February 19, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Steven NY

    You think a PR revamp will solve the GOP's image problem. How about the last 8 years of failed leadership? That is a pretty bad image. Since you have no ideas nor any clue on how solve the problems your party has helped create, this PR stunt is nothing more than putting a dress on a pile of crap.

    February 19, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. fmr. Hillary Supporter now for McCain

    I don't always agree with your policies, but good for you guys for sticking it to those liberal cry-baby's.

    BTW, If those critics include Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman, that's even BETTER!

    February 19, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  9. scdemocrat

    LOL and this is the guy you think will bring the GOP back to relevance? Wow the Republicans really are sailing a rudderless ship.

    February 19, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. Dan, TX

    Wow, just wow. Good luck with that, man.

    February 19, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  11. Angie in Pa

    Steele What A Joke! Hes worse then Sara Palin
    TIP TO GOP;
    Get out of the Past Think A new, Stop catering to Red States Only, Stop trying to control Peoples Personal Lifes regarding Homosexuals Or Womens Choice,Think about the Little Man and not Just the wealthy,Stop starting Senseless Wars YOU HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO STEELE!

    February 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  12. Deborah

    This is good news!

    We need our Checks and Balances Back BIG TIME!

    February 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. Shannon

    Good luck with that.. I'm not buying it.The only way your going to change the gop is with new people and new ideas. It's like they say out with the old and in with the new. So lets get some dems in those gop seats :) just a thought.....

    February 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. George Bush JR...

    why don't we worry about condition of the country/world instead of the rnc image...

    February 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  15. Steve

    When Karl Rove tried to dance and rap a few years ago at some high-end party, I was embarrassed for him. If the Republicans try to go hip-hop, this will be just as entertaining as Karl's adventure into the music world.

    Michael Steel's new "strategy" is indicitive of how chaotic the Republican Party is right now. By "going hip hop" he's going to lose a vast swath of the religious right base........oh....wait a minute....that's probably what he WANTS to do!

    February 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. Obama Victim

    no need...............all we need to do is sit back and watch The Messiah trash the country..............back in in no time...only 3 years, 11 months to go

    February 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. DB

    His choice of language is totally offensive! This is why the great state of Maryland (the state I proudly call home) dumped him as soon as we could. He needs a few lessons from President Obama on class. One good thing about this is that no one that I know in any area - rural, suburban, or urban - will fall for this new "hip" Republican party. Give me a break!

    February 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. John, Brooklyn, New York

    With his "one-armed midgets" remark, its clear that the republicans STILL don't get it. Dismissive jokes about people with disabilities is not going to help their image as an inclusive party regardless of a pricey PR campaign.

    Hmmm.....sounds like the "lipstick on a pig" analogy still works.

    February 19, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  19. BGIV in NC

    This ought to be amusing. Maybe they can get Gingrich to rap a little for us, he's pretty hip. How about David Duke? He's a good Republican who is all about diversity and inclusiveness. Off the hook? Yeah, off the hook with laughter coming from the general public.

    February 19, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  20. Steve

    When Karl Rove tried to dance and rap a few years ago at some high-end party, I was embarrassed for him. If the Republicans try to go hip-hop, this will be just as entertaining as Karl's adventure into the music world.

    Michael Steel's new "strategy" is indicitive of how chaotic the Republican Party is right now. By "going hip hop" he's going to lose a vast swath of the religious right base........oh....wait a minute....that's probably what he WANTS to do!

    And Mr Steel? "One armed midgets?" Have you thought about going to sensitivity training? I'm sure this statement seemed funny to you, but generally we don't refer to people as "midgets" anymore. It's a derogatory and patronizing term. Kind of like referring to your team as Republicans.

    February 19, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. Tracy M.

    There are so many things wrong with this man, I don't know where to start. I can just picture him saying "off the hook" like my mom used to say "far out!" Guess they'll put out a casting call for their rallies and conventions for "young, Hispanic, black" folks to attend. Last year it was just a sea of white faces, polyester, plucked eyebrows and lacquered hair. Yeah, they're, like, off the hook. Dude.

    February 19, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  22. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    A hip-hop GOP is an astoundingly stupid marketing ploy guaranteed to lead to the extinction of an already moribund party. I hope it works.

    February 19, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  23. Jeff in Illinois

    LOL omg...they're going to make fools of themselves. I can just picture their rap-video commercials now:

    "yo yo yo wazzup homies?! You down wit tha tax breaks fo the rich? We gonna scrap the {censored} constitution cuz we be scared of terror attacks! Vote G to the O to the P."

    This would all be done with plenty of hispanics, blacks, and one-armed midgets dancing in the background.

    And little does the GOP know...but they're going to offend everyone in their clumsy, trying-to-pretend-they're-not-racist and against the bottom 99% way.

    February 19, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  24. fmr. Hillary Supporter now for McCain

    Almost forgot. I also wanted "Stuff It" to them too. that includes you too, boered1, you mentally RETARD!

    February 19, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  25. Sniffit

    OMG...it's like watching grandma try to do the Cabbage Patch...

    February 19, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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