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. Maggie from Virginia

    Jeff in Illinois,

    Dude, that was the funniest post I've read in a long time. The G to the O to the P. LMAO. Too funny.

    February 19, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. carmela

    Oh my goodness...do the republicans seriously think that having an African – American chairman would just all of a sudden appeal to the public, and energize whatever they need to energize because they lost their credibility? They don't get it...it's not about the race...it's about the person's dedication to serving the public...and that is what President Obama is all about..he is serious to serving the public. Well, being good-looking, charismatic, well-spoken and universely popular happen to be just bonuses. They can't top that...happens only few in one's lifetime.

    February 19, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. Carmon

    Oh' Since when does the GOP listen to RAP MUSIC.

    Don't insult my intelligence please....
    Good luck getting 50 Cent and Eminem to join you.

    February 19, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Lush Limprick is the real RNC head.

    "off the hook" public relations campaign that will update the GOP’s image by translating it to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."

    As one of 4 blacks in the repub party, YOU the token for the RNC will be a very, very, very busy man!

    Also, have you had this message approved by the boss at the main house?

    February 19, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Cal

    Hmmmm, lets see. Let's update our image so poor, inner city minorities vote against their own interests. Nice! I like it. Lets get Jay-Z to endorse the GOP!

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Andi

    Investment Banking Rap: (first chorus)

    Yo, yo, yo,
    got an IPO
    Man, those VC firms
    got a lotta dough

    Made that one up a few years ago when I worked as an IT specialist at an IB. It's a lot funnier to see it, live.

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. julia

    What a maniac he is!!! hahahahahaha nice going GOP!

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. PR Yo

    Yeah, 38% income tax is waaay too low. i would like to thank the wealthy in this country for funding everything that everyone else wants, from subsidizing education and free public schools that their fellow americans seem not to take advantage of, to paving the roads. The next time I see a sappy story about SCHIP on TV with some well dressed middle class mom complaining about not having health insurance for her daughter, while standing in front of a relatively nice car and a satellite dish in the background, i think i'll puke.

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. Ann

    Steele, you are an idiot!

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Matt

    What Mr. Steel and Republican party members don't realize is that they didn't lose because of Public Relations or how their message was disseminated, or who they were targeting. They lost because of the message itself.

    On energy: "Drill, Baby, Drill"
    On the economy: "Trickle Down works"
    On foreign relations: "Our military is stronger and we should act as such."
    People realize what is going on and won't stand for it any longer.
    - "I didn't leave the Republican Party. They left me." Me-2004.

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. R in Maine

    I guess someone had to be sacrificed to pass the time until they can find a real leader, not this joker. But he does seem representative of the garbage they have to work with for now.

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  12. John

    what an idiot!

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. David

    When did CNN become The Onion? Did I miss the changeover?

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. MaryAnn

    They are now known as Repuli-Can'ts
    No Plan's for the average American
    No Solutions
    Only concern for the rich and corporate America
    Republi-Can'ts

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. CSD

    Are you serious? This is the BEST the GOP can do? Time to officially put the GOP on the Bucket List. They'll be joining the Whigs in the annals of US political history.

    ....a one-armed midget......Is this guy high? Although, he does look alot like a black Richard Nixon in that picture with that goofy arms out pose.

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. Lex

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Joe

    I realize that "midget" may be a socially acceptable term to many people, but it is a completely offensive term. Think about how freely people used to throw around the "n" word and never think they were being racist. People might use these terms in day to day conversation (which doesn't make it right) but politicians should know better.

    February 19, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Ben

    Mari – Hate, Lies, Fear, and Division????

    Have you bothered to check your own party lately?

    February 19, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. obamahasbigears

    Republicans! What a tricky bunch.

    I can tell by (fmr. Hillary Supporter now for McCain) and her complete lack of proper english usage that she has fallen into the same trap of anti-intelectuallism that has removed common sense from her party and replaced it with "values" issues...aka religious and nationalist dogma. But thanks, we needed a turn at the wheel!

    February 19, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. Kristen

    The GOP announces its plan to embrace all people by using the derogatory term "midget." Oh man, this is going to be funny

    February 19, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. NY republican

    To "jes" – Mr. Holder is the Attorney-General for the Obama Administration (Democrat). Mr. Steele is the man this article is about (Republican).

    To all those crying "give Obama a chance, he's only just got the job", Irepeat your sentiment – give Mr. Steele a chance, he's only just got the job.

    February 19, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. Bud Burgoon-Clark

    On behalf of little people everywhere,

    I DEMAND AN APOLOGY!

    The man is clueless, insensitive, and just plain DUMB!

    February 19, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. Unshrub

    Typical, they want to change the image when they need to come up with workable solutions. The store is going broke so they think all they need to do is paint the outside.

    February 19, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. Hope

    Great way to reach African-American's: marginalize them. How embarassing. This man knows nothing about being an African-American.

    February 19, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. Daniel, Atlanta, GA, ex-republican

    RNC/GOP hypocrites!

    I respectfully want to inform you, Mr. Steele, just because an African-American is now at the helm of the RNC does by NO means equate that the RNC/GOP stands for the average American, especially immigrants and minorities! The GOP's years of consistent "us against them" policies that marginalized minorities in this country and kept hurting minority families down cannot be erased nor will it be forgotten! NO self-respecting minority or immigrant would join you or the GOP/RNC! Your "reaching out" is only a propaganda ploy that easily spotted by anyone with two brains cells! The GOP has failed America!

    Mr. Steele, you're not Mr. Obama! He's real. You're not!

    February 19, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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