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
More of the republican party eating their own. Keep it up Steele, I love the entertainment!!!
I see a "I am resigning to spend more time with my family" statement on the horizon from Steele.
Oh the Party of NO are bickering among themselves. Go figure.
Michael Steele is the least of the GOP's worries. They have fully embraced kookery and bigotry. The nation deserves better.
Michael, Michael, Michael. You should know the rethuglicans only wanted your skin color and nothing else. But I like your attitude. You are in charge so let them know! Don't let those bullies (rethuglicans) push you around. Show them what you got!
ALL of you Republican clowns need to "look in the mirror". You are a joke. He spoke the truth and you're mad because you know its the truth and you are trying to feed your minions these lies. Do NOT be fooled. Just as 2008 was not a "normal" neither will 2010 and 2012 be. Keep on living in your world of delusion. All the better for us.
Who cares about the GOP anyway. Chairman Steel is a joke just like all the rest of the ring wing nuts in the Republican Party. All Republicans scream no to everything.
I wonder how these same people would of acted if every Dem had voted no to everything President George W. Bush had wanted during his 8 horrible years in office.
The whole Republican party needs to "LOOK IN THE MIRROR" Not just Steele. They are bringing down the US. Its time for them to become "patriotic" and back the president. United we stand!!
It's funny to see the bickering between factions of the Republicans. Mr. Steele is outspoken and sometimes is right on the money but has burned too many bridges in the party. The old saying; "A house divided cannot stand" holds so true.
That is not to be construde as an endorsement of my own party which should be looking for new leaders with backbone. Nobama has proven to be a splineless Chicago thug politician that loves backroom deals and paying off others to get this weak Health "reform" bill through. Fricken sell out! Stop sucking the teets of the insurance companies.
This guy just can't stop saying the wrong things. Just... just stop talking.. please. And anyone who apologizes to Rush Limbaugh is a Class A moron.
All of these politicians instead of doping around fighting with each other they need to start doing there jobs that we the tax payers are paying them to do if they want to fight then they need to move aside and let someone else take there place.
This is no big deal. People are diverse and will have different opinions. Democrats, business partners, family members, players on sports teams will disagree from time to time. Only in this case, CNN is striving to create the perception of chaos to benefit a majority of their liberal-leaning readers... why else would they publish so many Palin and Cheaney articles?
Chairman of the RNC, in name only?
So . . . does Rush Limbaugh need to approve all Republican comments before release? Wouldn't want to give a Republican the authority to have a personal opinion.
Since the Republicans currently value fantasy over reality I can see where Steele giving an honest assessment of their 2010 election-year chances would cause problems. People who are living in a dream world often hate to be woken up.
Steele would like us to believe that extremism is patriotism. This is not a recognizably American notion. in fact the US is at war with extremism and the last thing we need is extremism in our own politics.
Steele is an ambitious political careerist, hoping to make a name for himsel, looking out for his own financial interests. He is using his position to divide people. He can't imagine the inevitable hard ending.
I love it when the snakes implode themselves.
Most of the Republicans do not get it, but I think Steele is starting to. The conservatives are no longer going along with party lines, it is along people lines. The Republicans have become too moderate and are more in to keeping the peace instead of standing and fighting for what is right. No party is safe. Being a politician is a servant job, not a career. They had better start listening to the people because we are fed up. 2010 cannot come soon enough.
I sure both sides will love bashing each other over Mike's foot and mouth challanges, but the truth is there is no difference if you vote Democrat or Republican Liberal or Conservative. We will get the same we have always received from big brother, the people who can attract the billions required to be elected are not getting that money from the people. Both of these parties are bought and paid for by the Special interest groups, PACs, Unions, Wall Street, banking, global Corporations are all contributing billions to re-election funds that undermine the people's representation
I say in 2010 ask who is funding you representative? Look to see where the money is coming from? If the money comes from outside your district then who do you think they will represent if they are elected or re-elected? We need to bring these professional politicians back into line.
Think if they are in office than put them out no matter what party they belong to, and if given a third party choice vote third party.
Republican/Conservatives are committing treason. They are aiding and abetting the enemy.
First, who really cares about what a "staffer" says? They are employed to assist their boss, not make policy. If Republicans actually stand up for common sense principles and represent "the people", listens to "the people", that go to Washington to serve "the people" vice the party, it will result in a landslide victory with change that we "the people" can believe in. Putting Country and People ahead of Party and Politics is a winner and always will be.
It's ok, Michael. The GOP doesn't shoot people who disagree with them. They just turn their backs and shun them. If you're unhappy with Steele remember - this is what happens when you rush to fill a post with a token...kind of like you tried to do with Palin. Pick a person ONLY because of their color or sex and you quite often find QUALIFICATIONS are more important.
To all the Palin defenders out there - QUALIFICATIONS aren't just your resume. They are also your ABILITIES...to think on your feet, to rationally work through problems, and to speak intelligently. Also requirements for the job and all qualities Palin lacks. She doesn't even know how to finish a job she gets. Come on!
Steele - your problem isn't the truth. It's the party you think you're running. But we know what's REALLY going on. Just as Cheney was really running the Bush administration, Rush Limbaugh is currently really running your party. Sorry.
Steele, Here is a thought... Do as all the other Republicans, just say, "NO!"
Dosen't Steele know the truth is not allowed in the Republican Party.
This puppet deserves whatever he gets!!