January 8th, 2010
10:23 AM ET
4 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. snowdrop

    Oh my!! Maybe Michael Steele's job is in jeopardy!!!!! That would be a real hoot!!!! I guess talking from both sides of your mouth, and then retracting some of what you said and adding other remarks isn't the most popular game to play for "SOME" Republicans! I really think if Michael Steele could honestly look at himself in the mirror, he'd be so scared he'd hop on the next shuttle flight to the moon!!! I'm sure they could drop him off on one of those "new" planets that have just been discovered". He could "homestead" the property and ALL Republicans could join him there and live in a commune! WHAT A WONDERFUL AMERICA IT WOULD BE WITHOUT THE GOP!!!!!

    January 7, 2010 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  2. Carl Justus

    The truth hurts, but the republicans should get used to the truth, for it has excaped them for some 30 years at least..

    But they cannot stand to talk the truth or hear the truth. All they are interested in is getting their pockets filled by the oil companies, the military/industrial and the multi-corporations by being given tax cuts to move the jobs to foreign countries.

    January 7, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  3. Gordon Shumway

    These guys had better get their stuff together pretty quick, cause the opposition leader knows he has a lock on 75% of the black vote with no problem and Obama is changing his name to Labamba to lock in the mexican vote.

    January 7, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  4. Kyle

    So no other opinion within the party allowed? How ridiculous. The republican party continues to thrash their image.

    January 7, 2010 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  5. Ha

    Michael Steele – a gift to the Democratics and Republicans worst nightmare

    January 7, 2010 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  6. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    Time to shoot the messenger, guys?

    Steele is absolutely right: If the GOP neo-cons keep up their narrow-minded, self-righteous, bible-thumping, they're going to drive off everyone except narrow-minded, self-righteous, bible-thumpers.

    January 7, 2010 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  7. Midwest

    Steele is correct. Give the guy a break, Repub purists. He's got the sense about him to call it the way he sees it and not bow to your extremist, win at all costs, say or do anything to defile your competition, no holds barred approach to politics. Maybe his clear eyed approach might help you convert some independents to the Republican side during the next election. You can be guaranteed one thing, your present M.O. is only going to alienate more voters if you keep this purification of the party stuff up. You lost me after I was a Reagan Republican and I'm not sorry I switched parties in '07 one darn bit.

    January 7, 2010 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  8. Bertina

    It's about time these republicans do what they were elected for..take care of their constiuents and quit worrying about their careers. Talk about spoiled brats!!!!!

    January 7, 2010 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  9. Jose

    Ahhh how the republican leadership don't like the truth even when it is coming from one of their own. Priceless!

    January 7, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  10. HAWK IN TEXAS

    Don't you just love it when the great party of NO eats their own. watch it steele the tea baggers are after you remember they want to purefie the party. HE HE HE.

    January 7, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  11. Donald

    So, we Americans are supposed to be fed up with Democrats and rush over to the G no P in fall of 2010. Anyone with that type of thinking is on some serious meth binge.

    Michael Steele can't purchase a roll of toilet paper eventhough he's head of the RNC. Are you kidding me!? He's a toothless puppet at the helm of a party that is on the verge of extinction. The party is full of clowns!

    January 7, 2010 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  12. Zion

    This party was in the toilet before Steele. All those telling him to shut up should have shown leadership, and then perhaps, the party would be on better footing. Under Steele's leadership, Republicans won races that they would have NEVER won under normal circumstances. I am tired of the Republicans overlooking Steele as the head of the party.

    January 7, 2010 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  13. John

    He is digging himself deeper," the Senate aide griped about Steele,

    uh, Republicans, what was your first clue that Steele's a flake?

    January 7, 2010 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  14. tee

    In the words of Chris Matthews.......what have the republicans done for the american people in the last 15-20 years.....please do not say....kept us safe......as though 9/11 never happened.

    January 7, 2010 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  15. dee

    Oh, did Steele steal the Repubs show? Why does this party feel the need to "shush" everybody even if they have not so positive comments? Since they are on a roll, shush Cheney!

    January 7, 2010 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  16. John J, IN

    The Senate guy is right – Steele is a joke. We can do a heck of a lot better than this clown.

    January 7, 2010 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  17. D

    How dare he make a statement based on the facts. Everybody knows that the GOP doesn't deal in facts. Get with the program!

    January 7, 2010 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  18. Ann-Virginia

    The GOP is spending more than a 1/4 million dollars of tax payer money for a primary to decide which of 5 candidates will go up against Rep.Tom Perriello,5th district(Virginia)in the 2010 eletion.This should infuriate voters(tax payers) in Virginia.The GOP is so scared of Perriello,they would go this far to try & beat him.The GOP needs to shutup about Dems spending.They really are desperate!!!

    January 7, 2010 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  19. Dean in PA

    Even Repugnicans know this guy is a moron.

    January 7, 2010 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  20. kapechi

    It is pretty stupid for the Chairman to proclaim defeat even before the election if that is what happened. If so, he should resign and sell his books. How dumb is it to do this? Just one more idiot in Washington.

    January 7, 2010 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  21. Liberal4Obama

    The first truth he says and conservatives are already complaining. More LIES Mr. Steele... L-I-E-S ! tell them what they wanna hear if you want to keep that $200K a year cozy job of yours

    January 7, 2010 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  22. rick Atlanta

    Friends don't let friend vote Republican!

    January 7, 2010 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  23. Perusing-through

    BRUTAL HONESTY

    I am not a fan of Michael Steele, but I am confident he is fully aware of a critical issue that Sarah Palin, Tea-Baggers, Birthers, and State Secessionist do not understand. Steele knows very well that GOP Party Purists are unknowingly sabotaging their own Republican Party.

    Steele is too smart to go on record quacking like so many other ignorant Limbaugh ditto-heads in response to every Democratic action. Instead, Steele is searching for intelligent, wise, thought out, and responsible solutions to the critical issues facing the nation; while Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and GOP ditto-heads are consistently searching for unproductive new lows that turn Independents away from the Republican Party, thereby losing an opportunity regain the House in 2010.

    January 7, 2010 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  24. Perusing-through

    BRUTAL HONESTY

    I am not a fan of Michael Steele, but I am confident he is fully aware of a critical issue that Sarah Palin, Tea-Baggers, Birthers, and State Secessionist do not understand. Steele knows very well that GOP Party Purists are unknowingly sabotaging their own Republican Party.

    Steele is too smart to go on record quacking like so many other ignorant Limbaugh ditto-heads in response to every Democratic action. Instead, Steele is searching for intelligent, wise, thought out, and responsible solutions to the critical issues facing the nation; while Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and GOP ditto-heads are consistently searching for unproductive new lows that turn Independents away from the Republican Party, thereby losing an opportunity to regain the House in 2010.

    January 7, 2010 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  25. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    This guy is struggling so hard trying to appease those who use him because of his own stupdity. Michael Steele, this is America and unfortunately in his own quest for whateever he's lost his way. The Republicans will get rid of him lot toxit waste. Goodbye.

    January 7, 2010 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
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