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. Aspen Professor

    The Senate aide told RNC staffers to do a better job controlling their chairman (Michael Steele).

    "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."

    I imagine that the "end" the Republicans are talking about is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? We certainly cannot have the Republicans in the House, Senate, and on the FOX channel telling the truth!!!! Goodness gracious, what would Cheney think? Gone soft? Gone righteous? Tch tch.

    January 8, 2010 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  2. sharon, newport news, virginia

    If we can keep this fool talking,preferably in front of a camera, and add Sarah Palin, Rudy(who didnt even know the shoe bomber did not happen under Clinton) Guiliana, Glen Beck and Rush the Democrats should do just fine in 2010. These people would not knpow thw truth if it jumped up and bit them on the butt. Rush, who earns $33 million a year, stating our health system worked just fine for him is a joke.If the party of NO doesn't find a better spokesperson, voters are going to laugh all the way to the polls.

    January 8, 2010 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  3. southerncousin

    Any news yet on the Charlie Rangel ethics investigation CNN seems to dwell a lot on republican problems while letting democrat liars and cheaters get away with anything. When are you going to hold Pelosi accountable for her lying.

    January 8, 2010 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  4. Comment

    Under Republican control:

    3000 plus died on 9/11.
    shoe bomber attempt foiled.

    Under Democrat control:

    underwear bomber attempt foiled.
    No dead.

    Now you judge who keeps us safer!

    January 8, 2010 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  5. John Boehner is like Cleopatra, only he bathes in Cheetos

    Republicans are not able to accept the truth, and reality does not bode well with the tea bagger party. To borrow the thoughts of John McCain, the fundamentals of republican party stupidity are sound.

    January 8, 2010 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  6. ED

    How can you expect to defeat the Dems when you are fighting within the party? Just add Palin as candidate in 2012 and Obama will have a sure win in 2012.

    January 8, 2010 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  7. ross

    who cares about the RNC and their band of looney tunes?

    January 8, 2010 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  8. John Boehner is like Cleopatra, only he bathes in Cheetos

    Michael does come up with some lulus, though not as crazy as the liar of the year from Wasilla.

    January 8, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  9. Preston k

    40mm quad 50 how can the gop like obama when they do not like them selves pk

    January 8, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  10. SA in OO

    IF you're a Democrat, ya gotta love this guy. Ya pic a "token", ya get a token – Steele, Palin . . .

    Republicans used to have some really smart people who did more than just rant about conservative talking points trying to see who can put the most conservative spin on issues that deserve more serious consideration.

    Now . . . not so much.

    January 8, 2010 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  11. WeThePeopleofVirginia

    Good . . . debate is necessary. Get the message straight, make sure all are on board and kick-out those that need to go. If you are not working to better this country, then get out of the way.

    January 8, 2010 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  12. John B in Pittsburgh

    Here's a radical thought–maybe if the Republicans actually did some work, came up with a few new ideas, tried to make a positive contribution to the nation, rather than merely saying "no" and focusing on party domination of the political scene, then maybe, just maybe, they might stand a chance of victory down the road.

    As disappointing as the Democrats can be, the Republicans seem absolutely venal. Why would I support anything they do, whether Michael Steele is involved or not?

    January 8, 2010 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  13. I'm a wing nut afraid of Nancy Pelosi

    How can anyone with average intelligence deal with a GOP party made up of people who think tea baggers are center right and not extreme right wing loony fringe?

    January 8, 2010 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  14. Not Right or Left but Forward

    Steele is the best thing to happen to teh Democratic Party since November 2008.

    January 8, 2010 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  15. Cal Vet

    Does it really matter what Steele says? How will his comments influence the electorate? For Republicans to gain a majority either the dems will have to really foul things up (not likely....economy is rebounding, Afghan strategy in place, health care debate will be settled) or Republicans will need to stop pandering to the fringe right.

    January 8, 2010 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  16. terik ororke

    Well, the chairman is correct. Some Republican leaders like to say: This is what the American people want...." The fact is that they do not want the republican party since it favors the rich most of the time and is not compassionate as in the past and it has certainly become obstructionist and really childlish, stomping feet and really not presenting anything positive that the American people really want–like sheer honesty.

    January 8, 2010 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  17. I'm a wing nut afraid of Nancy Pelosi

    The republican party: America does not want them, and the Devil thinks they are too extreme for him.

    January 8, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  18. gotta hav

    Now that's strange, I thought Obama was the strategist for the Republican Party?

    January 8, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  19. Duck Fallas

    Steele still thinks he was elected to be charmain of the RNC. Silly man. He should do as he be told, and stop gittin' so "uppity".

    January 8, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  20. Dave

    What's the problem? Eventhough we all know that the GOP cares only about power, they won't take back the House in November. Steele was just being honest.

    January 8, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  21. Jerry

    Steele needs to have an operation to put a window in his stomach because his head is so far up his butt the window will be the only way he'll ever see the light of day.

    January 8, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  22. Nija

    Rush has not called him yet so Republicans should not panic.

    January 8, 2010 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  23. Gilbert

    GREAT!!! All is not well in the Grand OLD Party!!

    January 8, 2010 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "The Senate aide told RNC staffers to do a better job controlling their chairman."
    ------------------------------–

    HOLD UP!! WAIT A MINUTE!! I always knew that Mikey was controlled by someone, but I had absolutely no idea that that someone was so low on the RNC totem pole: STAFFERS? Mikey, the RNC Chairman, is controlled by STAFFERS??! Well.....it's all beginning to make sense now! lol!

    January 8, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  25. George

    Please do not get rid of Michael Steel. He is the best thing we democrats ever had. Go drink your tee, and act like the jerks you truly are. You baggers are the laughing stock of the entire world. Eurpoe is quite entertained by you idiots.

    January 8, 2010 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
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