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. Sniffit

    the whole idea of controlling congress just fives these people erections and hard nippples

    rub them off (ie..... vote them all out) and the erections will go away
    the hard nipples can stay............they are kinda fun to look at

    January 8, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. Todd

    steele has not figured out he is the republicon party's "boy" not their leader. He actually said something sane, honest, and sensible for the first time since being put out as the token face of the party. But he did not check the daily gop lying points for the day and so the ayatollahs of the right are after him again.

    January 8, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. Jeff B

    How stupid are these politicians? Do the GOP members afraid of Steele's comments think such remarks are going to change anyone's mind? Maybe if the dimwits who control the party ever decide to do what best for the country again, and get away from being lapdogs to the oil industry & the evangelical wackos, the GOP would have a chance to win the whitehouse again.

    January 8, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. TCM

    haha...this is lame, CNN. Nice try on "watch what the right hand is doing...." as the left hand screws the nation....but, the majority of the country, >50%, is fed up with liberalism and it's inability to manage the slightest task; so articles like this are nothing more than a ruse.

    January 8, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    oh well. He didn't follow the Joseph Goebbels model and spout unrealistic and untrue drivel. The Reich leaders (fat boy, Shamity et al) will now have him ousted as being unpure. The parallels to now and then are truly scary

    January 8, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. Worker2010

    What are the Republicans doing besides attacking the President. They are receiving a paycheck twice a month; and they are not doing anything but just running their mouths. It is time that they get to work.

    Citizens of the United States, I hope you realized that they have collected a paycheck for about a year now; and they didn't do any work to have earned it. We should make them pay us back and give their checks to the unemployed worker that was without a job for about a year.

    The way I see it, we are the one that is working. I wish I had that privilege just to set back and collect my paycheck and attack my boss about what he is doing and not doing.

    Get to work Republicans.

    January 8, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  7. DJ in TX

    I'm a Democrat. I'm looking at this in a different light. This shows me that whether Democrat or Republican, they are worried about getting re-elected vs. running the country. I disagree with Chairman Steele on a lot of things, but he's right. As Dem's are losing support, the GOP is NOT gaining the support. The GOP had the country for 8 years. They ran up government and the deficit. What have they done for the people to trust them again? They let Wall Street run wild unchecked and the banking crisis alomst crippled the nation. They made bad decisions, but now we're just supposed to trust them again??? Anyway, the GOP is eating their own. Chairman Steele is right on with his assessment of the GOP. They'd better listen and start trying to govern, vs just slamming the Dem's and thinking that is going to win them support.

    January 8, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. alphonso

    come home 2 the democratic party we wil welcome u wit open arms

    January 8, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  9. Ken P

    It seems the Republican party doesn't like free speech. When Howard Dean stated that the health care bill should be canned there weren't calls to silence him. This isn't a partisan comment on my behalf, this is just an observation.

    January 8, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. Bert in UT

    By now Steele should know that the congressional Republicans can't stand having someone telling it like it is.

    January 8, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  11. RickM

    Republican gains will be despite the best efforts of Michael Steele, not because of him. Until the moderate wing of the party is defeated there cannot be progress.

    January 8, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. NVa Native

    Repub politicians and their media outlets clearly have an awkward and perverse relationship with the truth and/or integrity. They have gotten away with so much deception and out right lies for so many years it seems they reject honesty as a knee-JERK reaction and have no idea how to deal with it. As illustrated by Steele who looses control with his own honesty as every now and then he will partake of it, and then he gets beech slapped by his un-forgiving pack of cannibals & neo-con media.
    Should be an interesting election cycle as six Repub Senators retire (escape) this time, three times as many as the Dems ~ "dropping like flies" (sound familiar?) while replacements are being eaten alive.

    January 8, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Yougottaloveit

    Uh-oh..Steele is in trouble now !!!

    January 8, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  14. Steele isi out of line

    The only reason Steele is Chairman of the GOP is because he has the same color skin as the Democratic President. But, he often puts his foot in his mouth and is out of touch with the Republican leadership in DC. That begs the question – who is Steele representing if not the GOP leadership in DC?

    January 8, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  15. Silence Dogoode

    Now children...don't make me put you both in time out....this is no time for petty bickering....

    January 8, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  16. leave Steele Alone!

    Go, Steele, go!

    January 8, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. MoreDemsIn2010

    So Republicans are working to spin something common such as people retiring from office as a crisis for the Democrats? They ought to be looking at their own party first. Chairman Steeles comments were an honest assesment of the reality of the republicans current situation...and he is attacked for it. Typical for the right wing extremists in the party.

    January 8, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  18. Edna

    Michael Steele hasn't figued out yet that he has been used by the Republican Party. They thought he would be a clone for President Obama. NOT!!!!! He doesn't have anything that remotely resembles the attributes that our President has, the intelligence nor the wisdom, nor the compassion for the American people. Once the Republicans have finished using him, they will throw him aside.

    January 8, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  19. Big V

    classic case of the blind leading the stupid

    January 8, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  20. Joe in CT - not Lieberman!!!

    Is this a meltdown? Do the people who have spent the last 16 years alienating over half the population still think they can take over again? Well, maybe if they find a message other than NO they may win over some folks.

    January 8, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  21. Holden Mirror

    Looks like Michael Steele isn't the leader of the party after all. Its not like most of us didn't already know that, but glad to see it boldly on display. The one reasonable guy who might appeal to the middle, Mr. Steele, has basically been "censured" by the very party he leads. The radical right rides again......

    January 8, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  22. Emma

    Great. Ggood to see dissention in the ranks.

    January 8, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. kelly

    The republicans have shown repeatedly that they are not a party of sound ideas, they support corporate interest and not the people, they are also controlled by the evangelicals and are not friendly to minorities. Steele needs to wake up and join ron paul and put the republicans behind him. we need to save this country if there is still time and the republicans are worst than democrats just look at their voting records.

    January 8, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. Big Ed

    What "GOP message"? NO? We all got that message load and clear...

    January 8, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  25. Steve

    Republicans just can't seem to get along with anything a powerful African American says or does huh.

    January 8, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
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