March 2nd, 2009
01:23 PM ET
5 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. Carlston

    He's not the leader. Never had been. Doesn't have a vote in the senate...
    Oh but when he talks it's ugly...when the "black people" talk it's change.

    Yeah right. He's been pointing out big goverments mistakes Rep/demo for years not take to many sides normally pointing out stupid mistakes on both side.
    Grow up kids. Oh wow, look. Picture of a black guy complaining bout the white guy. Looks like real racisim is reeling it's ugly head again. Oh yeah thats right, it's onoy racist to complain about the black president if your white... gotcha.

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Steve in Louisville

    No.

    Rush Limbaugh runs the Republican Party. He spells out the marching orders to millions of minions on the radio each day.

    Name ONE Republican in Congress who will defy him.

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Nick 27, So Cal

    Hate and propaganda does not move this country forward nor solve solutions!! Lets see some real solutions Republicans.. Stop pointing finger!! Grab a tissue and dry your eyes.. you lost the election:(

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. todd

    I swear a few years ago I remember that it was unpatriotic to not support the president? I guess now its unpatriotic to support the president? I get so cunfussed by what my masters ( the GOP) dictate for me to say and believe. All I know is that the most important thing is that rich people keep getting richer. They are the ones that really mater in this country. Us working people will continue to carry the burden for you as long as you keep touting our religous views. Please don't pay your fair share in taxes if that means that you might have to fire a few people, insteaad of not taking that third vacation this year. We know you need to have that 5th car so we understand that if you have to pay any more in taxes you will have fire people so you can still get that 5th car or pay that 3rd mortgage. So lets make sure that the rich keep getting richer, God bless the Republican party!

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. Audrey

    Had it,

    Obama is Pelosi's puppet. The stimulus package was reflective of her handiwork, not the his. Where were the tax cuts for small businesses that Obama promsies? How come so much of the infrastructure spending was replaced with pork projects? Because Pelosi runs the show!

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. whoa, no one's following you, stooge!

    LOLOLOLOL

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. keith in california

    '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."'

    Prove it, Mr. Steele.

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Kira

    Wait a minute...Steele's comments were taped BEFORE Limbaugh spoke at CPAC? Did Steele have the text of Limbaugh's address when he made his comments? CNN, don't you employ any editors who can ask these simple questions? C'mon...please clarify this, CNN.

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. floridakaye

    who-wheeee...... this is going to be another "thrilla in manilla" .... sit back with your popcorn folks ... it's Steele vs Lim-blow! With the mounting push back against Rush (Huntsman, Steele, Cantor...), the blowhard may find himself leading a small fringe of right-wing nuts that can't get elected as dog catcher. Gee, I hope Liim-blow, Hannity, Coulter (and their political celebrity ilk) can find work somewhere when their current careers implode ... I don't think Obama's Recovery Plan provided relieve to washed up, self-indulgent, divisive "commentators" ....

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. george

    This President is a joke and so are you people that voted for him...Since he took office the markets have done nothing but tank and we have lost even more jobs.....Yea change you can believe in..hahaha....change is all thats left in my 401k..can't wait for the next elections.....one and done that's going to be President Obama....

    One term man just like Jim Carter..............

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. Exbricklayer

    Mush is the leader of the Rebuplican/Neo-Conservative party, to deny this is naive. But I dont blame Steele, wouldn't you be embarrased if your party was led by the "Professional Wrestling" of political commentary, Mush, Coulter, O'Riley, Hanity, Liddy, Rove, etc...

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  12. pat C.

    WELL STEELE YOU MAY BE 'DA MAN' BUT OLE RUSH IS 'DA MAN' MAKING ALL THE NOISE. 'HE BAD.'..I KNOW BUT ALL OF THE REPUBLICANS NOW ARE LOOKING SO RIDICULOUS THAT IT'S LAUGHABLE TO THE WORLD. GOD HELP THE IDIOTS THAT LISTEN TO A THING COMING OUT OF YOU DOPE HEADS MOUTHS. GOD BLESS OUR PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA THAT HAS THE FINNESS TO IGNORE THE IGNORANCE OF THE REPUBLICAN DRIBBLE.

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. Daisy

    Jindal is the second republican puppet

    March 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. todd

    I swear a few years ago I remember that it was unpatriotic to not support the president? I guess now its unpatriotic to support the president? I get so cunfussed by what my masters ( the GOP) dictate for me to say and believe. All I know is that the most important thing is that rich people keep getting richer. They are the ones that really mater in this country. Us working people will continue to carry the burden for you as long as you keep touting our religous views. Please don't pay your fair share in taxes if that means that you might have to fire a few people, insteaad of not taking that third vacation this year. We know you need to have that 5th car so we understand that if you have to pay any more in taxes you will have fire people so you can still get that 5th car or pay that 3rd mortgage. So lets make sure that the rich keep getting richer, God bless the Republican party!

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Judy

    Is that what the Republican Party is all about–entertainment? As in "Let them eat cake."?

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Mathew

    Mr. Steele, You can say that you are the leader of GOP. But we will see you will apologize to Limbaguh in next few days. You are just a mask of the Repubican Party, not the original face. You are just part of a "chameleon tactics" of GOP, to show Americans, that GOP is no just a party of southern whites, but includes all. But in reality, everyone knows about GOP. Mrr. Steele, you are a mask, not real face of GOP

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Patrick Manley

    I have to chuckle when I hear Rahm Emanuel say Rush Limbaugh is the face of the GOP. He obviously made this remark to get a rise out of the Republicans, which he did.

    Michael Steele should not have acknowledged the comment. Emanuel is the irritating kid in grade school who talks tough but is out of his element when he plays with the big boys. He shouldn't waste his time with trivial issues like this.

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. rita

    rush says the only "honest" thing to this country....obama has been groomed for yrs to do what he has started...cnn and all the rest of the so called "honest" journalists will not open your eyes....you along with most of washington are afraid to tackle what is going on. sit back and collect your paychecks, but, then again, might not be for long. socialism/communism/nation of islam...take your pick...one or all. politicians are a bunch of cowards...if clinton had not deregulated the system many yrs ago...ppl like obama and his croonies wouldnt have had a chance to do what hes doing to "help the country"...so sad..but, in the end....GOD will get him and all the others that want to destroy this country....god bless rush for standing up to his principles. oh yes, im sure i will not "approved" for posting. review me all you want.

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Edward

    Uh oh this guy just got Rush mad. Lookout. Never heard of Steele before this article.

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. MartyMar

    Yeah right Michael, you're the leader of the Republican Party! Bah! Anyone who cannot see that the Republican Party is splintering into two factions has to be blind. The CONservative "movement" has no place for you or your kind Mr. Steele and Mr. Jindal. That's why you are being undermined by Rush Limbaugh. No one is talking about you Michael, and you know it. You have to feel pretty stupid don't ya??

    The Conservative copout is always that Rush is an "entertainer". Hannity says the same. He may very well be, but suffice it to say that your "movement"/Party is run by an "entertainer"; a RADIO JOCK. And that, is sad.

    Get a grip Michael.

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. Steve

    Oh the irony! The republican and conservative base railed against the left and hollywood entertainers in ruining America. Guess who is leading the Republican party? – Entertainers (Rush, Sean & Ann) who are pretty much the bottom feeders of entertainment, feeding off of the misery of the American people!

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. kgeukes

    This man can't figure out that having a job is going to work!!!!!! What a nimrod.

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. scott oneill

    It may be "ugly" but its right on the mark. Its hard to express one'self truely and accurately without using the words that are necessary to convey the meaning. Give the man credit for "telling it like it is".

    March 2, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Mark

    Hmmmm...Steele leads the party. That's why he was the main speaker at CPAC. Wait, that was Pillpopper Limburger.

    March 2, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Kendall

    So the RNC Chairman doesn't agree with Limbaugh's position but won't renounce it. RNC memory must be bad because they had total control of the House/Senate/Presidency and they messed us all up.

    March 2, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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