January 8th, 2010
10:23 AM ET
8 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. AEK

    Eating their own...again!

    January 8, 2010 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  2. Jared

    Oh come on... this isn't even a story. The Republicans are frustrated, and that's understandable.

    January 8, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  3. Ro

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

    January 8, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  4. AndyBlue

    He he, These republicans are a sideshow. Just entertainment for the Majority. Why anyone whould give their hard earned money to these misfits of obstruction is beyond me.

    January 8, 2010 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  5. Jim from Fort Worth

    He represents the state of Republican Party.....confused and wacko....
    Just looks at the leaders in thier Party.....Rush, Gringrich, Palin, Mcain, Hannity, Beck....all of them are laughable....Just think for one moment if all these confused and wacko people where in the White House! OMG, the whole world would be afraid!

    January 8, 2010 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. Jason

    He was a lousy loose cannon Lt. Gov of MD and he's a lousy loose cannon RNC Chair – good luck Repugs – you all disgust me anyway. Dems forever!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 8, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Democrats recognize Steele to be a total idiot and Republicans seem to attract idiots like him. Look at Palin and Sen. Wilson, all first class idiots.

    January 8, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. Tram

    Steele, Palin, Bush, Cheney, McCain - these five individuals have proven to the American people that the GOP has absolutely no brains, no talent and no interest in helping America or Americans. The GOP have collectively proven that they hate America and all she stands for - liberty, freedom, the Constitution, rule of law.

    I just hope that the brain cells of the American populace isn't sucked out of their ears when the next elections roll around. The last thing we need as a country are these GOP idiots in any kind of powerful position.

    January 8, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  9. Liz

    It couldn't happen to a nicer party. After all the harm they've caused this country and the world, I hope they totally self-destruct. These people are anti-democracy. They don't want to govern, they want to rule for the benefit of the ruling class and everyone else can go to blazes. I'll never understand why anyone who isn't a multimillionaire thinks this party has their best interests at heart. All they want is your money and your vote so they can keep screwing you.

    January 8, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  10. Gil Oberdas

    Hey, Steele is more intelligent and informed than I thought! Good observation Michael. I'm still hoping Democrats increase their majority ofver the Party of "NO."

    January 8, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  11. shucks

    Steele better watch his back. He will learn really fast that lynching is still part of the republican idealogy. As long as he is the slave to the conservative right he will be aloud to live.

    January 8, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  12. why?

    Steele is as useful for the RNC as Obama is for America.

    January 8, 2010 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Ancient Texan

    None of this will matter come November election time. If the tag is Republican, Conservative, Tea Party, Or just plain "fed up", everyone in that mindset will vote for ANYBODY but the congressmen and senators that voted for Porkulas, Cap and tax and Obamacare.

    January 8, 2010 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. ronvan

    What continually amazes me is that these "elected officials" who are placed in positions of power – influence, etc., cannot grasp the fact that EVERY word they say is subject to controversy! YET, they cannot control themselves and constantly make comments that, after the fact, have to be explained or "cleared up"!

    January 8, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  15. Ray Jackson, Ms

    Steele had his own opinion and spoke the truth. How dare he???? What kind of republican would do that????? He must be a communist muslim terrorrist or something. Let's all teabag him!!!!

    January 8, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  16. Anonymous

    he's an embarrassment to intelligent conservative-minded people everywhere. Right up there with Sarah Palin.

    January 8, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  17. if you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Much like the unicorn, there is no such thing as a republican senate leader. Actually, other than Glenn Beck, the entire republican tea bagger/drug abusers have to get their talking points from Fox.

    January 8, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  18. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Every one has predictions that dont reveal truthful results just go ask Al Gore.

    January 8, 2010 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    .....and, I need to add, MILLIONS died because of this Party line adherence.

    January 8, 2010 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  20. Mike

    A little in fighting among Republicans is good for the party. Do not worry, wome the mid term elections and the 2012 elections, the Republicans,conservatives and independents will unite to get rid of the tax and spend demorats and nobama. CHANGE IS COMING.....

    January 8, 2010 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  21. Jarod of San Diego

    Fight, fight, fight, fight! Dont look now republicans, but the truth is showing. 2010, no easy wins.

    January 8, 2010 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. Travis

    We need a libertarian leading GOP not a moderate. He backs democrats with republican titles. We need a Reagan

    January 8, 2010 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  23. joe dokes

    Well, Steele's being realistic. They won't take back the House. Thinking otherwise is pure fantasy. The GOP got all excited about three Dems retiring earlier this week but that was just smoke and mirrors. Overall, more Repubs aren't seeking reelection so treating these Dem retirements as a sign of GOP victory is pretty stupid. But then again, the GOP has been pretty stupid of late. They are disorganized. They are being splintered by the so-called "Tea Party" folk. They have no emerging leaders other than Sarah Palin? If that isn't the kiss of death, I don't know what is!

    January 8, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  24. RetiredMilitaryMan

    time for this guy to go!

    January 8, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  25. Ryan

    I'm Republican and I definitely cannot stand the demeanor of Michael Steele. In a time when we need a chairman who champions conservative policies to the public, Mr. Steele tends to be making headlines about controversial statements. I would welcome Mr. Steele's resignation. There are too many well qualified and well spoken individuals who could lead our party in a new conservative resurgence.

    January 8, 2010 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
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