February 24th, 2009
11:05 AM ET
11 years ago

Steele: RNC could back challenges to stimulus supporters

RNC chairman Michael Steele said senators who backed the stimulus shouldn't count on party support.

RNC chairman Michael Steele said senators who backed the stimulus shouldn't count on party support.

(CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Monday that the party could back challengers to the senators who crossed party lines to back President Obama's stimulus package.

“Oh, yeah, I’m always open to everything, baby, absolutely,” he told Fox Monday night, when asked by Fox's Neil Cavuto about his willingness to support primary candidates looking to take "retribution" on the three Republican senators who voted in favor of the plan, including Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

“My retribution is the retribution of the voters in their states. They’re going to have to go through a primary in which they’re going to have to explain to those Republican voters in that primary their vote,” he said. “That is something I’ll talk to the state parties about, and we’ll follow their lead.”

“...It’s just like anything. When the state party says, ‘We’re going to endorse a candidate and support that candidate,’ the RNC is behind them. When the state party says, ‘We have a problem with that candidate,’ so does the RNC,” he added.

In a letter to constituents earlier this month, Specter - who withstood a close challenge from Club for Growth-backed candidate Pat Toomey five years ago - acknowledged the anger over his vote.

"My vote was cast recognizing the very substantial political peril that I face," he wrote. "I know that there are many on the Republican political spectrum who do not like the vote. I remember, obviously, the tough primary fight I had in the year 2004. But I felt in the final analysis, given the very severe consequences which might befall the country, that my duty was to look out for the public interest and not my own personal political interest."

The Pennsylvania senator is the only one of the three up for re-election next year.


Filed under: Michael Steele • RNC
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. candian pov

    How very pathetic.... while Rome burns, Nero... you know the rest. IF Obama is successful salvaging the sinking ship that the economy is, will Steele and Co. insist on a return to the current status quo?

    February 24, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Liz in Texas

    Party first...

    February 24, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. Minnesota

    You go ahead and do that Michael. Keep preaching obstructionism. That way you'll appease the minority party voters and lose three more Senate seats to Dem's that were previously safe seats for the GOP.

    You, and your party, are out of touch with the mainstream of this economy.

    The Nation's population is 2/3 optimistic about the Stimulus package and favor the Dem's over the GOP by 27% for who's doing more to help the economy.

    February 24, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. gl, Pittsburgh

    I guest the Republicans are going to continue to campaigning until 2012 and not help the American People if it is going to hurt them with their party. Republicans are very sad! Party first and Country last!

    February 24, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Andi

    oh give me a break for pete's sake!

    February 24, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Unshrub

    Doesn't the RNC understand that they lost and how they are becoming a relict. The RNC's only goal is to destroy Obama at all costs, even if it hurts the country. Everyone has figured out the only reason the RNC picked Michael Steele was because they think they needed a token black to go up against Obama. What they haven't figured out is race is not the issue.

    February 24, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. sharon

    shameful! i'm embarrased to be a registered republican. working together, compromise, and bipartisanship are more important than the party. i applaud the 3 senators who broke rank. more republicans should think independently and get w/reality.

    February 24, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Big-K(DC)

    I see Steele is still trying find his voice in being the front and lead attack dog for those Southern good old boys whos agenda is to do or say anything even pray that the President fail. All I can say to those obstructionous, in eight years may be you will get another opportunity to lead the Country back into the pits.

    February 24, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. C

    "Oh, yeah baby. I'm open to everything" Yeah dog, wassup, man. We da Repubs dude. We bad ass. We down wit da folks, ya know what I'm saying dog? Listen up playboy, I don't know why you think we the "NO' party, baby. We da "party Party", man. Yeah we got it goin on dude. Where you from, baby? Me and Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber, man, we cool. We down with the low class losers......... uh,I mean we down wit da people man...

    Mr. Steele you sound like an idiot. Grow up and act your age. Everyone is laughing at you.

    February 24, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. KJ in Dallas, TX

    This is the problem with the Grand Obstructionist Party. They are too rigid/frigid, and set on ostracizing and hating everyone with the exception of Wall-Street, big business along with their mega ceo's. Fortunately, there are a few in the party who has the sense to try to do the right thing for the country.

    February 24, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Keisha M.

    Funny, funny, irony

    Not too long along Dems took a lot of flack from Repubs over the fallout of the traitorous acts of J Lieberman

    My- how the tables have turned

    It appears the Repubs indeed Do eat their own

    February 24, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Matt

    This is one Pennsylvanian that will be voting for Arlen. Republicans have a stimulus plan – farm subsidies – with their constituents every year.

    February 24, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. Bev Esson

    Dear Mr. Steele – Maine Republican (and Democrats & Independents) like our Senators Collins & Snow just fine. Didn't you notice that Senator Collins was reelected by a healthy margin in a year that was toxic for many Republican candidates?

    Maybe you should learn something from these ladies instead of making short-sighted attacks on politicians who actually put the welfare of the nation ahead of their own egos.

    February 24, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  14. vlj in mn

    Retribution? What has happened to our political process when our elected leaders cannot make what they feel are decisions for the good of the people? I don't elect senators and representatives to have them be puppets for their respective political parties. I expect them to gather feedback from all angles and make decisions accordingly, knowing there might be some I don't agree with. Let's have good debate without the threats of retribution, no matter which side of the aisle you're on. (I know this is wishful thinking!)

    February 24, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. SUNSHINE

    I don't understand the republican party, They want Obama to pass bipartisan bills and laws, but fail to support the members of their party who go along with the new administrations plans? This stimulus bill is one sided but it is necessary to get America out of this deficit.
    Can't we all just get along?

    February 24, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. marco

    yes we can

    February 24, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Republicans are NOT for America's Recovery

    Of course Republicans will retaliate against anyone and everyone who disagrees with them – that includes the American people from the states where the obstructionist Republican Senators and Governors are from.

    Republican Senators betrayed the people in desperate need in their own states. Our NC Senator Richard Burr betrayed us and we will make sure he is defeated in 2010. He proved he cares nothing about the people of NC and is only focused on "PARTY FIRST" politics. Burr has NEVER voted but straight Republican his entire career – and the people of NC be damned. Soon he will know what it is like to be unemployed firsthand.

    For those of you who need and want this stimulus money and yet your Governors plan to reject it for political favor with the Republican Party – start working to vote them out of office.

    McCain needs to be voted out in 2010 by Arizona residents. They have one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation yet McCain has been very vocal and nasty about any help for Americans. He has 7 houses so he doesn't get it.

    Rid us of Governors like Jindal of LA, Sanford of SC and others like them who want their citizens to continue to suffer and fail. Sanford is refusing to taking any money for South Carolina. When SC residents called in angry and begging how much they needed the stimulus money, Sanford said he would not help them but said he would "pray for them".

    It's time to get rid of all the Republicans who care more about their careers than the people who elected them. Steele shows you why in this article. The RNC is very vindictive against those who do not do as they say – and the Republican Party's sole goal right now is to push for Obama to fail and thus America to fail.

    Letting America fail to further your agenda is the same arrogant and disastrous attitude we have seen by Bank CEOs, Wall St executives, and con men like Madoff. It's the Republican Way.

    If you want a look at "real" Republicans and their beliefs – watch the new HBO documentary called "Right America – Wronged". It will make you nauseous at the ignornace and hypocrisy. It's all Republicans who state on camera what they believe.

    Steele is only a token black face as is Jindal who is Indian and whose skin color is darker than Obama's. Real Republicans reject them and would NEVER vote for them because of their heritage and color. How sad – the Republicans are still what were – old white men who will never accept anyone not exactly like them and who will viciously attack anyone who disagrees with them.

    February 24, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. Judy

    Steele you should be walking a chalk line. I hop you know that these GOP's don't like the language you are using and don't like you. Keep up the slang and yang yang and you Mr. Steele will be out like a rat chased by the GOP's cat. You are pathetic Mr. Steele. Stupid is beyond your call for RNC Head Master.

    February 24, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. larry buchas

    Go ahead, idiot.

    The Democrats are chomping at the bit to take their seats away.

    February 24, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Texas Observer

    “Oh, yeah, I’m always open to everything, baby, absolutely,” he told Fox Monday night.....

    As an Obama supporter, I feel so good this guy is at the helm of the GOP.

    Yeah Baby!

    February 24, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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