August 5th, 2009
04:07 PM ET
5 years ago

Steele denies RNC role in town hall protests

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele defended the GOP's decision to automatically re-direct angry liberal callers to the Democratic National Committee Wednesday, telling reporters he "thought it was a good idea."

"Don't think you're going to direct a bunch of angry liberals to call the RNC when I know full well what that's all about," Steele said during an RNC conference call. "I get....the joke." He said he thought those critics should talk to their own party, who held responsible for "ginning this up."

Earlier in the day, a new DNC Web ad accused the Republican Party of "inciting mobs" to deliberately disrupt congressional town hall meetings where the Obama health care plan was being discussed, and asked viewers to call the RNC to register their disapproval. The RNC changed their phone menu so that those callers were directed to press a button that automatically transferred their call to the DNC.

Steele dismissed questions over whether the GOP move to deflect critical calls was hypocritical in light of recent criticism of Democrats for "demonizing" the town hall protestors, and denied the Republican Party had any role in organizing the confrontations.

"We're not inciting anyone to go out and disrupt anything," said Steele. "We're not organizing the town halls," only encouraging individuals to visit their congressman or senator to "express their point of view."

"There's no upside for the Republican Party [in the protests]," he said later in the call. "That's not something that's coordinated or deliberately set in motion by me or anyone in the state party.

"...To sit back and say this is a Republican cabal is a bunch of baloney. And you can substitute that 'b' for something else if you want."

Later, a frustrated Steele shot down another question about the GOP's view of the recent chaos at congressional town halls. "I'll speak slowly. There's legitimacy to the protest. But how people protest…. I have no control over."

He added that there was nothing unusual about the development, and that he did not understand why the face-offs were drawing media attention. "Why is it so out of the ordinary that the American people should stand up and say, 'I have a concern about something the government is going to do?'

"… I'm not telling people to go out and be disruptive, because there's no upside to doing that. We want to have a legitimate debate…there's no upside for us in starting a fight with the Democratic Party, or with elected officials that we disagree with."


Filed under: Michael Steele
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. jon

    Anyone who disagrees with President Obama's policies is an undeducated, out of touch, extremist simpleton. Got the memo DNC, thanks for educating me.

    August 5, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. F-Dog

    Yet another case of the RNC choosing not to listen to Americans

    August 5, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Mich

    Dear DNC
    I have protested at health care protest. I don't get paid by any conservetive group. I have gone to my congressmen's meetings when I ask questions about the bill. Their is nothing wrong with me asking question. Why don't you understand DNC we have voted for the DEM. in office ,and we have the right to ask questions.

    August 5, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. Vet from Boston

    Lier....Lier pants on fire. No we don't beleive the RNC or the GOP or the Rush or the Newt, or the Insanity Hannity, or all of those cheese

    August 5, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. John C

    These people are genuinely concerned over, and sincerely upset over the nonsense and lies the GOP machine is pumping out. Everyone would be upset if you believed the garbage they are shoveling, But is it not true. They don't want an honest debate because their only position is based on completely fabricated lies. They do not survive in the sunlite!

    August 5, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Florida Joe

    Steele fits right in as the Leader of the LIARS

    August 5, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Don

    You see!!! Trickery and underhanded tactics used by the Rethugs again! That's all that they are about. What makes these hooligans think that by stonewalling all of the current administration's policies they will be elected in 2012 without "any" resolutions to hard issues?

    August 5, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Idiots

    isn't that the role of a republican and their leader? insite fear and hatred, then deny it? DEVILS, LIARS AND HYPOCRITS!

    August 5, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Eric - Palm Springs, CA

    I strongly suggest the DNC reprogram their phone menu to tell the callers what the RNC has done and offer to redirect the calls back the RNC. Alternately, I would suggest the DNC offer the callers the opportunity to record their opinion of the RNC's actions and flood the RNC switchboard with irate message calls.
    Sink the moral squalor of the GOP with their own swill.

    August 5, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. single mom

    I found out about my congressman's 'local' events because HE e-mailed me. Not through the Republican party or anywhere else.
    I may very well attend and try to ask some questions. I don't want to cause trouble, but I'm very concerned that the deficit has quadrupled in 200 days, unemployment is over 10%, and Goldman Sachs just posted a record quarter but no one seems interested in investigating their involvement in letting certain competitors fail.
    I want an investigation on what happened with the Fannie/Freddie disaster. I want to know how people were approved for the Treasury Department after forgetting to pay their taxes, and I want to know why my government is more worried about getting re-elected than making sure the military isn't getting the equipment it needs.

    August 5, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. lb

    When will the democrats,pushing through yet another bill not wanted by many citizens, listen. We are not incited by the RNC, we are fed up with their agenda to further bankrupt a country and not approach health care reform reasonably. It isn't about a government run program, it is about reforming an already in place health care system to make it affordable and there are ways to accomplish this. Obama has an agenda that is NOT american!

    August 5, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. ERP

    Is there no decency left within the GOP and American "conservatives"? These hypocritical dinosaurs are sure doing a good job of assuring themselves a place on the wrong side of history and humankind.

    August 5, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. waheid

    Steele is an idiot. As a Marylander, I'm glad we got him out of our state government. Steele and the RNC are perfectly matched intellectually.

    August 5, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Kelby

    First Steele denied the Republican Party had any role in organizing the confrontations.
    Then he said, "We're not inciting anyone to go out and disrupt anything," said Steele. "We're not organizing the town halls," only encouraging individuals to visit their congressman or senator to "express their point of view."
    That means your oganization did play a role. However, I think the special interest groups did most if not all of the organizing. but they did so through conservative PACs.

    August 5, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. Nicole

    "… I'm not telling people to go out and be disruptive, because there's no upside to doing that. We want to have a legitimate debate…there's no upside for us in starting a fight with the Democratic Party, or with elected officials that we disagree with."

    Yet these people show up randomly at town-hall meetings, some of which have nothing to do with healthcare reform, shouting socialized medicine and hanging effigies of democratic leaders. But of course that's not what the GOP is all about. Birthers and deathers are takin over the party, while the dems enjoy a long-term majority standing. Like it or not, better get used to it.

    August 5, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. Republicanssuckbigtime

    Republicans – the party of no ideas, no manners, and no truth - and not a Christian value in sight!!! As the GOP becomes more radical and wingnutty every day, it saddens me. Rather than sitting at the table and trying to solve big issues, they drown out any sincere discussion and concerns with their mob mentality antics. Shameful but totally expected.

    August 5, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. sammieb51

    Mike I forgot to take my stupid pill today .....

    August 5, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    Mr. Steele: I am one of no doubt millions who will give credit were credit is due: The GOP utterly destroyed the economy. President Obama is fixing it.

    As Chairman of the RNC isn't is your job, Steele, to keep your people in line? As usual, you and your party simply turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, and hum and ha, but never take the blame or try to correct the behavior.

    I wonder what the overall IQ of your remaining faithful is. Lately, the antics being played by the GOP are reminiscent of middle school and seem to lack insight, maturity, and, well, adulthood, if you will.

    This is no doubt due to all those educational cuts of the past 8 years.

    August 5, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. Republicans Suck

    It is hard to believe proven liars.

    August 5, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. Independent

    The GOP don't do anything wrong......If you believe that, you are in the twilight zone....

    August 5, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  21. Dan Sczepanski, New York

    I wonder who ordered this ploy. Oh, I think I know. Lush Limpdick.

    August 5, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  22. Brian

    The Politics of polarization is all they have left. I guess they're going to fight for their right to have healthcare coverage that gives you double digit inflation (even in the worst economic down turn in our life time) and dwindling coverage. My guess is the people fighting the hardest have never really been sick.

    August 5, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. Mitch

    Steele...what are you, five years old???? And judging by the angry old women at these meetings....yeah, the GOP, RNC and FN are all culprits.

    August 5, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. Matt

    Hey Liberals get this through that thick skull of yours. "Rules for Radicals" works both ways. Now you are in power and the other side decided to use your very same tactics. People will be showing up at meetings more often now and they will want to be heard. The thing you should really watch is the use of the word mob to descibe your fellow citizens. Why is it with liberals and the media that when you are vocal and on your side they are supporters but when they are vocal and oppose you they are an angry mob.

    Watch what you say media or you will see what a real mob is.

    August 5, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. Amazed

    Unbelieveable! Our representatives need to start acting like adults instead of children. We need health care reform now and they need to figure out a way to work with each other, both sides have ideas to establish a new system. This country needs to come together, right, left, and moderate in order to restore it's greatness. This won't happen if everyone keeps looking out for their own interest.

    August 5, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
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