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
If the GOP is to survive and thirve they need for several things to occur. First, find a message that gathers in the Independents such as myself. Reagan did it, but no one in the GOP right now seems all that interested or talented.
As of now I find it difficult to vote for national GOP candidates who follow so blindly the dictates of the far-Right wing of their party. The tea-party message is off-putting in so many ways to me – not the basic gist of it, but the extreme anger and hatred and the all-too-many misstatements being made on that front.
Second, get on message and stay there. I have my doubts after the fiasco in upstate New York that this will happen soon, however, and perhaps this was the basis for Michael Steele's comments. A GOP divided against itself shall not prevail.
Michael Steele is a DISASTER..........Hope he gets re-elected
Cheney, Palin, Limbaugh, Steele, Gingrich, Teabaggers...they're all cutting each other's throats! Love it! And they're going to have a strike January 20th?
Remember the Saturday Night Live skit, "What If the Scabs Had a Union?"
Remember? They all started arguing and walked out of the meeting one by one!
Steele may be a tool, but he's not dumb. He knows how to call a political reality.
That seems to be more than one can say for the rest of the GOP, who have their heads so deep in the sand...or somewhere...they have forgotten what daylight looks like.
Steele is a puppet for the Republican party and not respected by his peers. As much as he bashes President Obama I hope he gets everything that is coming to him . Maybe he will come to his senses that he can be a conservative without being a part of the GOP which does not want any minorities be begin with....It should be obvious to him or any minority from the turnout during last years campaign rallies.
This party cant make up its mind on anything, except to say no when it comes to help the working people of this country. says yes, yes, yes, yes, oh hell yes to anyone making millions a year.
Steel is right you wont win back the seats , in fact you will lose more in house and senate.
I guess the Repubs are getting sick of their token.
Steele was just speaking the truth. The GOP won't win back the House & probably won't remove the 60 super majority in the Senate because the GOP is OUT OF TOUCH!
They : Start wars, lie to Congress & US Citizens, promote torture, run up debt & trade deficit all while lining their own pockets (F-22 Raptor anyone?)
It is time to disband the GOP & go with Independents v Dem as big parties with other parties having regional influence (Green in CA, revamp Rep wherever education is low & everyone has a gun)
Michael Steele is more oncerned on selling his 12-step program book on how to stop the President's agenda.
This just goes to show that the republicians are a bunch of idiots and so is the head of their party, steele. LOL
You'd think Steele would know that describing reality as it is rather than what your ideology says you'd like it to be is totally opposite to the Republican playbook. Mission Accomplished!
Like rats in a barrel.
Wow sounds like there is a bit of tension among the party of no. They are all a bunch of losers and steele is the villiage idiot of the party of idiots.
Obama and Steele are fighting it out for the biggest failures of the year. They be all wewed up!
typical republicans...eating their young. steele didnt belong in there anyway. he is there because the repugs said "we gotta git us one of them colored fellas" he was never going to be embraced by the southern so called "christians". you made your bed, now lay in it!!!
The whole thing with Steele bring put in charge of the republican party was just a ploy to make it look like the republican party likes african americans (a fraudulent show) no different than Pat Robertson the TV evangelist having old Ben (an african american) on Robertsons TV show all the time sitting right next to him. No difference. The amazing thing is how stupid they both fell for it (probably the money) Steele and Ben on Robertsons TV show. The republican party doesn't care anything about minorities period. They just use them as a stage prop and for any african american to think differently they have to be pretty stupid or like I say just after the money. Why hasn't the republican party before President Obama had an african american be in charge of the republican party? Jim Hall a republican that did not vote for the village idiot that was just left the white house in disgrace and we shall never vote republican again Go Obama go Kansas City, Mo
That's a very dumb thing to say but, it's not going to do a lot of harm. Let him wait 60 days and then change his mind. The Dims do it from one sentence to the next.
Its Obama's fault.
Clash of the know-nothin's.
Michael, don't be making statements like we probably won't take over the house this year. We have our sheep thinking otherwise, and as they talk and blog that we will overwhelm the Democrats, more sheep will think the same way and we WILL win the house. Remember, the way we did Bush's re-election in 2004? Thanks Rush and Swiftboat Veterans for your help. (Freakin' idiots that contributed to that farce. I think we are smarter this time around)
Chickens coming home to roost. Republicans eating their own..I love it
Oh, so the Republicans don't have it all together this year? I thought they were going to have a cakewalk back to the majority. I hope they keep this infighting up. It'll be good for the country if they lose this fall.
It's dangerous not to spout the parties propaganda. He should know by now his personal opinions or insight can not be allowed. When will these upstarts learn that the Republican party is our God and you must always consider it without flaw. Or else.
Oh please! Get over it already.
Freedom of speech nolonger valued in GOP