March 2nd, 2009
01:23 PM ET
6 years ago

GOP chairman says he leads party, not Rush Limbaugh

 Steele says he is the leader of the GOP.
Steele says he is the leader of the GOP.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is taking issue with the notion that Rush Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the GOP, calling the conservative radio talk show host an entertainer whose comments can be ugly.

Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview with CNN that he, rather than Limbaugh, is "the de facto leader of the Republican Party."

And Steele described Limbaugh as a performer.

"Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment," Steele said. "Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly."

Last month, Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, was elected chair of the RNC. He is the first African-American to lead the Republican Party. At the time of his election, Steele said that "Rush will say what Rush has to say; we'll do what we have to do."

Steele made his latest comments regarding Limbaugh on CNN's "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," which aired this weekend. The Steele interview was taped before Limbaugh's appearance before the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual meeting of conservatives from across the nation.

Limbaugh brought a cheering crowd to its feet several times as he called on fellow conservatives to take back the country.

He used his self-described "first national address," which ran more than an hour longer than his allotted 20 minutes, to accuse President Barack Obama of inspiring fear in Americans in order to push a liberal agenda of "big government."

Limbaugh also backed up comments he made earlier this year in which he said he hoped Obama fails.

"What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and re-form this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation?"

But a top Republican in Congress disagreed.

"I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now," House Republican Whip Eric Cantor said on ABC's "This Week." "We have such challenges. What we need to do is we need to put forth solutions to the problems that real families are facing today."

RNC spokesman Alex Conant on Monday did not directly address Steele's comments about Limbaugh but pointed out the back and forth between the White House and the conservative radio host.

"Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats know they lose an argument with the Republican Party on substance so they are building straw men to attack and distract," he said. "The feud between radio host Rush and Rahm makes great political theater, but it is a sideshow to the important work going on in Washington.

"RNC Chairman Michael Steele and elected Republicans are focused on fighting for reform and winning elections. The Democrats' problem is that the American people are growing skeptical of the massive government spending being pushed by congressional leaders like [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi," Conant said.

A spokesman for Limbaugh said the radio host did not have an immediate response, but added he would likely address Steele's comments Monday on his nationally syndicated radio program.


Filed under: Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (1,100 Responses)
  1. Walter Tortorici

    Limbaugh is the Adolph Hitler of the 21st century with hate mongering against anyone who doesn't agree with his warped ideals.

    March 2, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Dave in VA

    40% of the pork is republican.

    Steele didn't get elected by a majority of Americans. He was placed in his position in an attempt to re-define the GOP as an inclusive party. Steele has made no effort to depart from the platform that is set by Rush and the shrinking base of the GOP.

    Steele is no more a leader than Hannity. They just provide moral support for a bankrupt philosophy.

    March 2, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. Wisconsin Don

    I've seen a lot of comments on numerous blogs. Mostly name calling, finger pointing and blaming. Remember the old commercial "Tastes great!" "Less Filling!"? Seems we have the new version "More Spending!" "Cut Taxes!" As kids, if we acted the way our politicians are acting, we would have been punished daily. Shut up and go to your rooms! Don't come out until you can act civil to each other.

    March 2, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. FORMER REPUBLICAN

    SORRY UNCLE STEELE BUT THE KKK LEADS THE RNC.

    YOU ARE JUST THE "FACE" & FALL GUY WHEN NEEDED.

    March 2, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. gl, Pittsburgh

    Limbaugh brought a cheering crowd to its feet several times as he called on fellow conservatives to take back the country.

    Repubicans spend all their time trying to get back their country while Democrats spend all their time trying to help out all of the American people. Rebublicans country first, American people second!

    March 2, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. arithmetic is liberal

    Oh no!! He spoke out against the great and all powerful MahaRushie!!

    So much for the planned "he be da man" hip-hop make over of the Republican party.

    Silly people with no ideas...

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Bob

    Only in America would a narrow minded slob host of a talk show be seen as a political party leader.

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. dejah

    Limbaugh IS the face of the GOP. They embraced him while they were flying high, now they're stuck with him. The "leadership" can whine all they want about Limbaugh not "speaking" for them, but they've never criticized his hateful speech nor his attempts to intimidate those who disgree with him or the GOP. For many of us, Rush will always be the ugly face of the GOP. Long may they all sleep in the bed they've laid down in together.

    RUsh is not a disgrace TO Americans. He speaks only for those Americans who hate freedom of thought, religion, and to exist without having religious hatred and conservative politics shoved down our throats.

    Audrey - of course you hate Obama. Rush told you to do so.

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. Accountability

    How long utnill Steele has to apologize to Rush just like any other Republican who dares to challenge him? These people are sheep and they think we are too.

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. Theresa in Atlanta

    I just LOVE seeing airtime for the 3 fat boys: Limbaugh, Rove and Gingrich. Talk about giving someone enough rope to hang themselves.

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. Lyle Scholten

    Rush was right, this country is heading for Socialism, it was founded on people working hard to acquire what they want, they don't sit around generation after generation letting welfare thake care of them.. History shows what happens when the Government takes charge. Obamas plan will put this country into a deeper depression.

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. Omaha

    Obama is the disgrace. The stimulus bill contains no pork? ROFLMAO Where are the signs that say "Obama Lies!" Are Dems so blinded by the obvious?

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. Dan Schwartz

    Socialism is where Obama wants to take this country. Communisim cannot be far behind. The poor lazy people in this country that are victims what to take money from hard working producers. It WILL fail!!! Look at history. If you take away the incentive to work, you will destroy the country. I am thinking of quiting my 100K job if I get higher taxes. Why work to give some poor lazy victim my hard earned money. Rush is smart enough to know these basic facts of human nature. Why disrespect the truth. Liberals get elected by promises to give away other peoples money to some poor sucker who thinks gettting a little handout will make them succuessful and happy. Stupid stuff here.

    SIMPLE AS THAT!!!

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. Lawton Apartments

    Interesting development here. Rush Limbaugh has said some very hurtful things about people over the years. But now he is being listened to by Republicans who are searching for reasons why they are not the majority party at the moment. But they don't have to search very hard, in my opinion, to understand that the Republican Party has been a party of minority viewpoints and minority interests for several years now. For Republicans to be relevant in these times, they need to stop talking as if only their ideas matter.

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. flamingo39

    Congratulations to Mr, Steele for stepping up to the plate and revealing Rush Limbaugh for what he is....a bigot who uses the airwaves to further his personal agenda, i.e., (higher ratings). Intelligent Americans see through his facade for what he is...an absurd radio talk host who chooses his battles for headlines.

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Angry America

    People like Rush and Hannity are right about 95% of the time and the libs need to realize that more and more people are starting to think like that. The 2010 election will not be kind to the Democrats

    March 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. Ken Sanders, Vancouver, Canada

    It is people like Rush Limbaugh who share in the blame for this ugly mess we are in. He is a SLOB !!!! The Republicans held power for 8 years and failed to see this catastrophe coming. Limbaugh is a loud-mouthed bigot. Thank you.

    March 2, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. myraJ

    Mr. Steele, said that he was the leader of the party. He is nothing more than a token leader, but we know who the real leader of the party is. Mr. Emmanuel so aptly pointed out that everytime a republican disgrees with Limbaugh, they have to run and appoligize and say that they are misinformed, so I'm sure that Mr. Steele will be rendering his apology soon, afer Rush informs him, that he is the true leader of the party. I saw Steele on CNNs DL Huglegy Show, and even DL pointed out that Steele was the first republican that he'd spoken to that Rush wasn't the leader of the party.

    March 2, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. al in memphis

    Doesn't this seem like a bad curtain call with all the actors still putting their pants on while the audience watches.
    And you want to leads this country out of this mess with the same programs that got us into this mess.
    Oh, I forgot–we are supposed to be listening to you criticize Obama and not whether you have any new ideas to fix things. You betcha!

    March 2, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. arithmetic is liberal

    Audrey, if Pelosi runs the show, how come Obama scolded her on her stimulus bill inclusions, and now they're having words over the Iraq drawdown?

    Just a friendly question from someone who actually IS paying attention...

    March 2, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. Rob Ottawa

    Limbaugh and the GOP are sick people. Prime example of why the world has hated America for the last 8 years.

    March 2, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. Carol

    Rush Limbuagh is a evil man spewing pure hate out of his mouth attacking President Obama. All of his evil fans who are also his followers worship him. Rush is no comedian, he is what he is, an evil hateful and racist pig! I can only say thank God for revealing all of the evil, hateful republicans and conservatives; whatever they want to call themselves, same diff.

    March 2, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Real Change

    REALLY!!!

    Well here's what's funny about that. If some Repug diagrees with Michael Steele...that's fine. If some Repug disagrees with John McCain, or Sarah Palin, or Mitt Romney or Mitch McConnell, or Bobbie Jindhal....that's fine. But is some Repug disagrees with Brash Lipoff, that Repug will soon find himself kneeling before the throne of Lipoff asking for forgiveness.

    JUST ASK GINGREY!!!

    March 2, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. myraJ

    Mr. Steele, said that he was the leader of the party. He is nothing more than a token leader, but we know who the real leader of the party is. Mr. Emmanuel so aptly pointed out that everytime a republican disgrees with Limbaugh, they have to run and appoligize and say that they are misinformed, so I'm sure that Mr. Steele will be rendering his apology soon, afer Rush informs him, that he is the true leader of the party. I saw Steele on CNNs DL Huglegy Show, and even DL pointed out that Steele was the first republican that he'd spoken to that said that Rush wasn't the leader of the party.

    March 2, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Mike

    Limbaugh is hellbent on keeping his Multimillion$ contract in place. His remarks are intentionally incindiary. He IS an entertainer, let him lead when he puts his name on the ballot, until then he is a paid rabble-rouser. The republicans who listen to him can't read demographics very well. Look at the under 30 years of age vote in the past election. In a decade the republican party will be extinct!

    March 2, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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