April 9th, 2009
03:02 PM ET
6 years ago

Organizers reject Steele's request to speak at Chicago 'tea party'

RNC chairman Michael Steele was told he could attend but not speak at an upcoming gathering of conservatives in Chicago.

RNC chairman Michael Steele was told he could attend but not speak at an upcoming gathering of conservatives in Chicago.

(CNN) – Organizers turned down Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele's recent request to speak at a conservative gathering in Chicago because the event is focused on "everyday citizens," one of the event's organizers told CNN Thursday.

A representative for Steele reached out Tuesday to Eric Odom, one of two lead organizers for an April 15 gathering in Chicago that is part of the so-called "tea party" movement against government spending and in favor of the free enterprise system. Odom responded to the Steele request via e-mail on Wednesday.

"We respectfully asked that he attend but said that we would not be giving him stage time [to speak]," Odom told CNN.

Steele's rejection was based in the organizers' desire to have the event focused on the views and participation of the conservative grassroots rather than on elected officials holding political office or official positions in political parties.

"This is an opportunity for everyday citizens to speak and for elected officials to listen," Odom said Thursday. "We've been listening to them for years. On April 15, we are taking this opportunity to speak to them. It's not an opportunity for them to speak to us."

The national "tea party" movement was inspired by CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli's late February outburst on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Joined by several traders, Santelli expressed frustration about the Obama administration's plan to increase government spending in the hopes of turning around the economy and helping homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages. During the outburst, Santelli suggested the idea of having a "Chicago tea party" on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Filed under: Michael Steele
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. SHIRLEY "60"

    That's one way for your party to show you what they think of you, and others like you Michael Steele.

    April 9, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. Deborah

    Our Governor is speaking at our Tea Party next Wednesday!

    The American people are not willing to march lock step into Bankruptcy!

    The silent majority is waking up!

    April 9, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. Edward Blake

    Wow... this is pretty telling.

    Rush squashed Steele's authority right off the bat, practically from day one. And now the rank-and-file conservatives don't want Steele around either. Is Steele officially a lame duck now?

    April 9, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. Kyle

    The Republicans don't get the invitations they used to......the partys over fellas!

    April 9, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.


    I'll be attending a Tea Bag Party!

    April 9, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. Lynn

    Actually Santelli has distanced himself from the now Fox motivated "tea party". The demonstrations have been taken over by haters and one issue rightwingers. Should be entertaining to watch!!

    Interesting choice of words:"conservative gathering"; we shall see.

    April 9, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. Gene

    Now I wonder if Steele will bother to attend so that he can listen.

    April 9, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Marty, FL

    Where were these "conservative" cries while President Bush and his Congress were wasting debt on an unnecessary war in Iraq, as well as other irresponsible spending habits? Sorry, but this is nothing more than tea-bagged hypocrisy.

    It seems suspect that these rallies are all of sudden being held NOW that we have President Obama in office working to help our country out of this economic challenge. Personally, I will be at a rally with my Obama shirt on to show support for our president's respectful efforts.

    God bless America and President Obama!

    April 9, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. aja

    Good Job by the Chicagoans! (I hope that is what they are called),
    They get it! This is not about the politicians coming in and getting face time. THAT DEFEATS THE PURPOSE OF THE TEA PARTY!!
    This is about Americans taking back America form the greedy hypocritical power hungry politicians.

    April 9, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. Tom Kaye

    The "original" tea party was about "taxation without representation"

    What is this "new" tea party all about?

    We have elected officials that enact laws and yes, establish taxes.

    If you don't like the officials, vote them out.

    This is just a stunt by those on the right . . . apparently a bunch of sore losers that can't get over losing in 2006 and 2008 and are headed for more losses.

    April 9, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  11. Kevin B

    The tea party idea is a reactionary response to dealing with a problem caused by the past eight years of irresponsible governing.

    Starting a war while cutting taxes at the same time has bankrupted the nation. Throw in un-regulated and rigged markets and waa laa!! A deep recession and high unemployment.

    The folks participating in the tea parties are being manipulated by the same forces that manipulated the US into the mess we currently find ourselves in.

    Mr Steele just wants to tap into the reactionaries in hopes of gaining some credability.

    Unfortunately, stupidity has become as american as apple pie.

    April 9, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. Kelby In Houston, TX

    Does anybody believe the organizer's reason for not allowing Michale Steele to speak at this function?
    "Steele's rejection was based in the organizers' desire to have the event focused on the views and participation of the conservative grassroots rather than on elected officials holding political office or official positions in political parties."

    Yeah right...I have a cool nickel here that says an elected official will be given stage time at this function. Oh! I hope they televise this event. I love to see and hear the other side to know what they are thinking and why.

    April 9, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Frank, Las Vegas

    No one wants Steele, not conservatives and not the GOP. What's an idiot to do?

    April 9, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. KW, Vail AZ

    Free enterprise really hasn't worked that well for the masses. Look at where we are now. I don't think we can handle much more "FREE ENTERPRISE".

    April 9, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. Al, South CA

    I got automated phone call about this tea party. Annoying – to be interrupted, and to be invited to join GOP extremists. I like tea, but don't like automated calls, and certainly would not drink tea with GOP extremists.

    April 9, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Love how the same 'patriotic' group that for 8 years was shouting down any criticism or opposition to the President has now become a 'patriotic' group shouting criticism and opposition at the President. Do conservatives realize that they are completely without a clue, not to mention an idea?

    April 9, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  17. Tom Thies

    Right on with the "Tea party" movement. Our government was founded as "We the people" and not "We the Government." It is time to speak against our political leaders who are giving away our sovereignty, giving away our right to self governement and giving away our right to worship, speak freely and to live securely. It has never been about our leaders, it has always been about the people. Those voted into leadership work for "We the people."

    April 9, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. Mel

    My god, the arrogance of this is just astounding. This is yet another reason why the Republicans are losing power. He's just shown us that he doesn't care about the every day people, he's in it for the power. Disgusting.

    April 9, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. Lexia

    Now thats funny!

    April 9, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. Michael in MN

    The Tea Party movement will be the biggest grass roots citizen movement this country has seen for decades, maybe ever. It is not in support of or against any particular political party. I is a call to action for anyone who is oppsed to irresponsible and out of control government spending that is leading to a skyrocketing national debdt that is absolutly scary. This includes the bailouts, the massive stimulus bill full of pork and the massive budget just passed. The only possible outcome of the massive deficts will be a bankrupt America or huge tax incresed on everyone, including the middle class, to pay for it. Those in Washington who are supporting the out of control spending are hoping the citizens of America will not notice or ignore the deficits and are not telling us the truth about our future.

    April 9, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  21. Hammer

    Steele needs to realise that he is a symbol of everything that is wrong in the government today.

    April 9, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Laverne

    I got a feeling the republican party plans to buck against Michael Steele every chance they get. He is doomed dealing with these people, they don't respect anybody who does not walk and talk they way they do. Michael, jump off the sinking ship while you can!

    April 9, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. Mike Dallas

    You neo-cons need to look at the satellite picture of D.C. taken on 1/20/09, now THAT was a "tea party"!

    The only attention your "tea party" will get on the 15th will be from Lipton!

    April 9, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  24. rachae

    How funny that they will not let him speak

    April 9, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. Ed from Wisconsin

    A "Chicago tea party", is even more ridiculous than the idea of Michael Steele and Palin running for oval office. You just a simple case of the blind leading the blind. Furthemore, given what we saw from the past 8 years of Bush, we all know how the story ends!!!

    April 9, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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