January 8th, 2010
10:23 AM ET
5 years ago

GOP aides clash over Michael Steele

Steele is under fire from members of his own party.
Steele is under fire from members of his own party.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – GOP tempers flared Wednesday during a routine conference call when House and Senate leadership aides confronted Republican National Committee staffers over recent comments by party chairman Michael Steele.

At issue was Steele's prediction earlier this week during his nationwide book tour that the GOP would not take back the House in November - comments that infuriated Republican strategists on Capitol Hill, who decided to broach the topic during Wednesday's call.

The dispute - first reported by Hotline On Call - occurred on a daily strategy call with aides from Republican leadership offices in the House and Senate along with RNC officials.

According to a senior House aide on the conference call, a Senate staffer said the chairman was trampling on the GOP's message in a week that saw several high-profile Democratic retirements. The Senate aide told RNC staffers to do a better job controlling their chairman.

"He is digging himself deeper," the Senate aide griped about Steele, according to the House source. "He's got to stop and put and end to this thing."

RNC Research Director Jeff Berkowitz jumped in and "offered a hard defense of Steele," according to the senior House aide. Berkowitz shot back that the Senate official was "out of line," which then set off a round of "bickering," the House aide told CNN.

A House aide chimed in to express sympathy with the plight of Steele's advisers, but said the chairman's remarks had the potential to do serious damage to fundraising, candidate recruiting and voter motivation ahead of the midterm elections. "You guys got to tell us how long this is going to last," the House aide said. "Our phones are ringing off the hook. He is putting our bosses in difficult positions."

The call ended shortly thereafter. Asked for comment on the flare-up, RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho e-mailed: "Not commenting on staff calls."

The senior House aide later told CNN that congressional Republicans have "confronted" Steele over the past year about some of his comments.

"He has been confronted numerous times by Senate leaders and House leaders over the last year," the aide said. "They have confronted him about speaking about things he shouldn't be speaking about, whether it's Senate policy or House policy."

"Today, he threw a temper tantrum and told people to shut up," the aide said, referring to an ABC interview in which Steele lashed out at his critics. "At this point, he needs to look in the mirror."

Story updated at 9:20 p.m. EST


Filed under: 2010 • Michael Steele • RNC
soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. Jane/Seattle

    And the American Blood Sport goes on....

    January 8, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. Emma

    How do you reign in a loose cannon. The internal war of the GOP is a bad omen for them. If they cannot organize as an effective party, how can they run the US?

    January 8, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. The Voice

    And this is the party some want running our nation again??
    God help us all!

    January 8, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. VON BISMARK -Vienna

    Poor Steele,the guinea pig role is coming to an end.The experiment is over!
    Repent!

    January 8, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. Mr. Moderate

    And this is the group that's supposed to deliver us????

    January 8, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Annie

    I will make a bet that Steele will be fired or removed from his position soon, what ever excuse the Repblicans use for his dismissal is their way of getting rid of this hot potatoe.......

    January 8, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Bertina

    This is how I know that the Repubs won't win as big as they hope.

    January 8, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    now this is funny again the GOP is eating its own people just like Palin .. it just doesn't get any better LOL :) keep up the good work STEELE

    January 8, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. southerncousin

    Poor republicans will get their dirty laundry aired by CNN in a hearbeat but there is no story by CNN about the corruption investigation being conducted (for well over a year now) by Pelosi on Charlie Rangel. Wonder why? Could it be that old liberal bias that CNN is famous for.

    January 8, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. white female

    Michael Steele, Sarah Palin and all you (uneducated) people need to stop talking, stop all the foolishness, and please go back to some kind of School and get some education, please it is badly needed.
    Your speaches, your way of thinking is so out dated with the world today it makes you look so stupid and empty headed.

    This President knows what his job is and he is doing a great job. Please let this Man do HIS JOB as President of the USA. We know that you'll lost, but just stop the maddness, give it a rest for awhile, come on it is getting sicking hearing all the bad mouthing, and hateful things that you keep up. GET A LIFE.

    President OBAMA/BIDEN for the next 16 yrs

    January 8, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. David

    Maybe they will take back the house and maybe they won't. But one thing is for certain, the GOP is going to make gains in both houses. The disarray of the dems and this heatlh care fiasco will see to that.

    January 8, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. Minnesotan

    Once again, the Republicans prove that they would rather hold on to their delusional views instead of acknowledging reality and considering that they "would not take back the House in November." Good job, GOP. Keep your heads in the sand, just like you've always done.

    January 8, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. FL for Change

    Go ahead...eat your own! Americans know that you don't care about us, Rethugs!!

    January 8, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. Dieter Zerressen

    You never hear which Republicans are retiring in 2010. My last count shows more Republicans than Democrats in the House, the Senate and the state Governorships are retiring, term limited or quitting (Palin) than Democrats yet the "liberal" press reports the Dems are fleeing a sinking ship! Some unbiased journalism. Beyond the fact that the out party always picks up seats in an off year election, Republicans won't be making much of a splash EXCEPT for the sudden "retirement" of Michael Steele in 2010!

    January 8, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Who said the Mayans were wrong?

    Uncle Mike doesnt know that telling the Truth sometimes can get you fired from the Party of Liars.They believe that if you lie often and long enough,people will believe,like they did in the book,"Animal Farm.

    January 8, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. DALE

    Not matter what the truth is or is not, you are only allowed to tout the party line. The country doesn't matter, jobs don't matter, terrorism doesn't matter and lord knows the truth hasn't mattered for decades. The only thing that matter is that we win. Once that happens the heck with everyone else.

    January 8, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. george anderson

    Mr Steele has just stated the obvious, voters will not vote for Republicans if they are as corrupt as the current group of politicians in Washington. This proves that at least he has learned the lessons of the past election cycles and is listening to the grassroots movement that is tired of special interest ruling our country.

    January 8, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  18. C Spurgeon

    I think he fits right in with the hate group..Just say No..right! Most people wait to write a book after they have finished something. Is this legal??? Oh well takes all kinds. Glad I am not their kind.

    January 8, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. Big Chunky 33

    Watch and learn now America as the Republicans turn on this man like a dog, and believe you me this has alot to do with race. (think they really just disagree with Obamas because of his views) America, this is the reason why over 90% of Blacks are Democrats......there really is no use going to a party where you are not on the guest list

    January 8, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  20. Bob 139

    Sounds like Chariman Steele has been "going rogue."

    January 8, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. HBO

    One day soon, Mr. Steele will come to the realization that no matter how hard he tries to assimilate with them, the GOP will always see him as a:
    – boy,
    – token,
    – spear-chucker,
    – watermelon,
    – spook,
    – coon,
    – monkey, and
    – plain old "N"

    January 8, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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