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. TSD

    Ummmm...that was funny. No, seriously, what is the GOP going to do to target younger, multiracial people to join. Oh. That is seriously his marketing campaign?

    I liked Mr. Steele until this moment. But, it did give me a laugh today.

    February 19, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Andrea

    Steele says:
    “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.”

    Yes, you certainly did "miss the mark. That is the biggest understatement of the century. But no, Mr. Steele, you're in "the crapper" as you so eloquently put it, because you and those who follow your ideology are grossly arrogant and clearly living in a bubble. You "had" the White House, Senate, House? HAD?? Our government was never yours to lose Mr. Steele. The Government belongs to the people, not you and your imbicilian cronies.

    If you think some "hip hop" (yo yo, no wait… you’re a hilarious JOKE) urban, pop culture media blitz is going to "get back" what you think you "had" guess again. Join the home team bro, or go down with the ship you narcissistic dimwit.

    February 19, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Missy

    As a one-armed midget I'm extremely offended by Steele's remarks. Well... ok. I'm not a one-armed midget, but I'm STILL offended for a whole bunch of other reasons. These guys are a complete freak show.

    February 19, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  4. tc6789

    uh oh... this aint good..... GOP is scrwd...

    February 19, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  5. ER Doc

    Steele sounds like a true idiot. The GOP failed recently only because they tried to accomadate the leftist democrats. Its moderates trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator who have ruined the party (ie John McCain). When we forget about "bipartisanship" and agressively go forward with limited government, less taxes, and policies based on personal responibility, then the lying, theiving, mindless democrat zombies will simply fall away. We need to STOP PLAYING THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! The country was based off of the exact principles of the Republican party and that is why we have succeeded to this point. NO MORE APOLIGIZING! The democrats have not worried about compromising, and now they are trashing every good thin\g about this country in record time.

    February 19, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  6. Chris

    This is the kind of people who are financially secure in this country. While the hard workers live on unemployment checks. Are all these individuals lying and cheating there way into these positions? They couldn't possibly have been interviewed. Perhaps it's time for the leaders of this country to convince the American corporations and its people that, it isn't just college credentials we should be relying on. We are failing our great citizens and the results are what we live in today.

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. Phil Muse

    About the only perceptive thing Michael Steele said was his comment that the Republicans are "in the crapper," which most of us would agree with. What on earth did the GOP have in mind bringing in a Black as RNC chairman? Today's Republicans are the right-wing white folks' party, period. For every minority vote Steele solicits, he will lose 2 to 3 votes from the party's core constituency.

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. July

    Rush is rolling is eyes as he reads this while popping a few dozan pills for breakfast

    Hannity is reading this at his homemade basement because the WORLD is going "socialist "

    'House Republican Whip Eric Cantor ( Beavus ), R-Virginia, along with Minority Leader John Boehner ( buthead ), R-Ohio '

    beavus is rocking to Aerosmith for THINKING he is the future of this party

    buthead is tanning of course

    jajaaa and Steel is trying to be 'cool ' ... yeah dude you are sooooo off the hook. Steel ... really!?!

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Bo

    Listen everybody...It's funny to actually see the GOP or JOKE trying so hard to change their image. How about changing the HEART...All I've heard out of the GOP is cut taxes, cut taxes...whippering and crying about everything.

    ALL I SEE IS THE GOP TRYING TO BLOCK EVERYTHING PRESIDENT OBAMA IS TRYING TO FIX, BECUASE THE GOP SCREWED IT UP IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    THE GOP IS "OFF THE DEAP END" WITH THEIR THOUGHTS.

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. NickS

    Mr Steele,

    Here is a question for you though your party to a budget which was in the black and we were reducing our national debt to now that we are into debt to our one time mortal enemies. Tell us how you intend to straighten this little problem out.

    Also did you see the little political cartoon yesterday? What would you think if it that we had to look for a new head of the Republican National Committee.

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. KB

    With a select group of GOP governors saying they may refuse stimulus money that will help their hurting people for selfish political reasons, I really doubt that Mr. Steele is going to get ANY Democrat converts.
    And we won't even go into the Rush & Hannity effect. What a Joke!!

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Mike in NYC

    Does this guy really speak like this? This read like an Onion parody.

    Message to Whites - the GOP is throwing you under the bus.

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. dave

    He's a fool to think that people in his party like Rush and Hannity is going to let him do this. It's also foolish to think that people of color will fall for some gimmick gin up by the race bating Republican party.

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. Sniffit

    LSD anyone?

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Mark Lodes

    Beyond the cutting edge, there is no cutting it. Trust me, nothing gets cut beyond the cutting edge. Republicans will not be able to steal any thunder from Barack Obama. He's the nation's first African American President. Installing a wild and uncontrolled effort at widening the Republican appeal will come off as disingenuous, empty, and ineffective. Especially when it becomes so radical as to become a "beyond the cutting edge" strategy. When Republicans go radical, you know they are desperate. I voted for Bush in 2000. Radical is what Republicans do when they get addicted to prescription pain pills, or get caught with a hooker.

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Robert Harris

    Here is a wakeup call for all of you Bush/Republican haters. The party that gave you the HATE and FEAR were the Demorats and yes as your parents might have told you, you are known by the company you keep.

    Now that your guy is in power, you want free speach for your ideas but no one elses. If you do not like what you hear on the radio or see on televison, change channels or turn it OFF.

    Stop complaining, many of you voted for this guy without knowing anything about him and dismissing the fact he was not qualified experience wise. Hillary had more and your side dismissed HER.

    I didn't care for any of the candidates the parties gave us, we have been short changed by the political system and the people in it.

    Get a LIFE America, get off your butt, start electing individuals that will actually represent us and not the lobbyists and change the system so they have to experience what we do. Let them go back on Social Security and see how long it takes to fix that program. Congress complains about the RICH and they can't figure out how to pay their taxes! And by the way, why is it that many of them come out of Congress wealthy when they didn't go in that way?

    February 19, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. Matt

    Reporter: "The Republican Party is altering their approach?"

    Michael Steele: "Word to your motha."

    February 19, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Kay Whitman

    And as a 40+yr Republican, may I say you may "stuff it" in return Mr. Steele. I do not need you or anyone else telling me that they know "the one and only way" to run the world!!

    Kay

    February 19, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. Debi

    “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.”
    ---------------------------–
    Coulda, shoulda, woulda.... if it were not for your previous commander-in-chief, your party of old white men, and oh yeah, your out of touch with real people ideology.
    Mr. Steele, PR is not your problem. Your party's entire line of thinking is your problem. Your party's willingness to allow the right wing nuts and the corporations take over your party. That is your problem.

    The mark your missed is reality.

    The reason your party wants to cut funding for education: it is easy to convince stupid people to follow blindly, because they are not smart enough to ask questions.

    February 19, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. John S

    Most of your comments are racist! You liberals are really racists at heart. This Black man, Steele, is not a bad person. Your true colors are showing liberals.

    February 19, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. McMahon

    The GOP is going "urban"? Really? Well maybe they can explain why the guy who sent out the CD "Barack the Magic Negro" not only remained in the running for the chairmanship of the party, but is still a member in good standing?

    Then Steele tells anyone who critques this far right political party (which it has become unfortunately) to go "stuff it." This party is an aggressive, mean-spirited group of people who subsist on rumors, little to no fact, an strange mix religious morality (which they can barely uphold) and a rejection of all things American. I am a swing voter. It wil be a LONG TIME before I vote for a republican again.

    February 19, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. nellie

    I am appauled and offended at these remarks. I can't wait to see Rush with a gold grill in his mouth, O'Reily on BET, with his sidekick, Hannity, Ann Coulter pushing her books at a Black Teen club in Baltimore. This is not to say any of these things are wrong, but if the Rep. party is going to reach out to Blacks, latinos, get started, no better place than these. I was mad at first when reading what Steele said ,but aftering I began and read the comments, I had to laugh!

    February 19, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  23. Carmon

    One armed midgets? LOL....... this guys is crazy.

    February 19, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. me

    Can't...stop...laughing. Will...die...soon.

    Hip Hop? Listen Token Steele:

    Nobody cares about what you have to say unless you care about what they have to say. As a Black man, I speak for every minority, females, and poor white people when I emphatically state : REPUBLICANS ONLY CARE ABOUT GETTING AND STAYING RICH.

    If you are not already rich, they don't represent you, never will.

    February 19, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  25. MLH

    Did he not notice that President Obama and the Democrats used a message based in logic, education and tolerance – not 'off the hook' (whatever that means) and 'hip hop.'

    February 19, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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