SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele called on state GOP leaders Friday to roll up their sleeves and help rebuild the party voter-by-voter, warning them that the Obama White House is already looking ahead to the 2012 presidential election.
"Do you really think Rahm Emanuel is sitting back saying, 'Yeah, you know we got this,'" said Steele, a reference to the White House chief of staff who is known for his bare-knuckle approach to politics.
To compete politically, Steele said that GOP leaders need to embrace new media to spread the Republican message in their states, while engaging in weekend voter registration drives to help grow the party. In return, Steele promised to devote RNC resources to help build the state parties' infrastructure.
"We need to be prepared to move quickly to respond" to the Obama White House, Steele said to the RNC members meeting this week in San Diego.
Elected chairman in January, Steele's first few months as head of the RNC were dogged by controversy. He came under fire for not staffing up quickly enough, and was a lightning rod for critics who questioned some of his headline-grabbing public comments. But in the past few months, Steele seems to have quieted the critics.
The chairman was not scheduled to deliver a formal address at Friday's meeting, but he used the gathering as an opportunity to highlight the work the RNC is doing on everything from fundraising to responding rapidly to President Obama and congressional Democrats. And he pledged to continue challenging the president.
"I am not afraid to go into battle, and not afraid to take the shots that come my way," Steele said.
At the meeting, the RNC also passed several resolutions, including several that condemn Obama's approach to health care reform, cap and trade and use of "czars" to oversee critical issues. Republicans take issue with the use of policy czars because many of them have been appointed without congressional confirmation hearings, though Congress retains oversight authority over their decisions.