April 5th, 2010
10:37 AM ET
5 years ago

Steele says he has 'slimmer margin' for error

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele defended his leadership of the organization amid recent reports he has engaged in excessive spending.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele defended his leadership of the organization amid recent reports he has engaged in excessive spending.

(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele defended his leadership of the organization amid recent reports he has engaged in excessive spending, and says he has a "slimmer margin for error" because he is African-American.

"Barack Obama has a slimmer margin," Steele said in an interview on ABC's 'Good Morning America.' "We all - a lot of folks do. I mean, it's a different role for me to play and others to play. And that's just the reality of it. It's more of because you're not somebody they know. I am not a Washington insider even though I grew up in DC. My view of politics is much more grassroots-oriented. It's not old-boy-network-oriented."

The interview was Steele's first since reports surfaced that the RNC paid for a night out at a risqué Hollywood nightclub. Steele has also come under criticism for the costs associated with his use of private jets, limousines, and five-star hotels.

News of the excessive expenditures are the latest in a series of gaffes involving Steele – the party's chairman since January of 2009 - leading some Republicans to privately and publicly question whether he is the best leader for the GOP going into a crucial round of midterm elections.

"This kind of thing has got to stop or they won't get any contributions," Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl said on Fox News Sunday. "The people that contribute to the committees, both Democrat and Republican, want to know that their money is well spent for the cause, and it needs to be that way."

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council - an influential social conservative organization - also urged supporters last week to stop donating to the RNC and instead contribute to its own coffers or to candidates with like-minded goals.

And a group of influential Republicans launched a new independent organization last week with the goal of raising over $50 million to help their party topple Democrats in this year's midterm elections. With its ambitious fundraising goal, the new group, called American Crossroads, is likely to compete with many of the same donors the RNC is targeting.

But In his interview Monday, Steele maintained he is the right leader for the organization and touted his fundraising success since assuming the chairmanship 14 months ago.

"At the end of the day, I've raised more than the Democrats in seven out of 12 months," he said. "I carried over the same amount of money as the [Democratic National Committee] in 2010. We had a very good march and will have a very good April. The bottom line is I hear my donors, I hear the base out there, I hear the leadership. "

Federal Election Commission reports filed at the end of February showed the RNC with more than $9 million cash on hand while the DNC reported $10.7 million in the bank. But the RNC had no debt at the time while the DNC reported close to $4 million in debt.

UPDATE: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday "Michael Steele's problem isn't the race card, it's the credit card."


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soundoff (185 Responses)
  1. Tim

    Isn't he the one that acqusded President Obama of playing the race card?

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele defended his leadership of the organization amid recent reports he has engaged in excessive spending, and says he has a "slimmer margin for error" because he is African-American. "Barack Obama has a slimmer margin," Steele said in an interview on ABC's 'Good Morning America.' "We all – a lot of folks do. I mean, it's a different role for me to play and others to play. And that's just the reality of it.

    Wow!!! He is the main one that screamed that President Obama supporters couldn’t were making that stuff up, that there was no difference!!! The hypocrite has finally had to admit what he defended, different standards!!!! But really, what is it Mr. Steele? Do people not listen to you because you are inept, or that you are African-American???

    April 5, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. Angie in PA

    Steele hahah please dont ever compare yourself to President Obama he is a smart man you on the other hand are a token IDIOT! PUT THE RACE CARD AWAY Just because you are fiscally irresponsiable does not mean you need to play the race card!

    April 5, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Blkman

    Interesting............while I truly can't stand Steele only because he is "black on the outside" and def not on the inside.......anyhoo........he is correct and what is sad is white America will never admitt to the level of unequilty that is going around this country.

    April 5, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. David

    Way to play the race card Steele, doesnt your party frown on that? Oh wait they are a bunch of hypocirital racists and your their Uncle Remus...nevermind

    April 5, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Fatboi,Alexandria,La.

    I agree if you messed up it's not cause you are black it's because you made bad decisions and didn't think you would get caught. You are a real brain child.

    April 5, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Based on the previous story about Meg Whitman (which CNN definitely closed for comment early) and this one it would appear that the libertards that inhabit these pages are sexist and racist. That is if we would apply their logic to their rants against the TEA party and anyone who opposes Obama. Of course they have always been sexist and racist, look at their treatement of Sarah Palin and Steele, funny how the biased media never comments on it though. Differing standards or just a lack of morals and ethics?

    April 5, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. Sniffit

    Soooo, anyone else catch the admission embedded in his statement? If what he says is true (and I'm not even saying it is) and Obama has a "slimmer margin for error because he is black," then the next question we should be asking ourselves is "well, who is acting baselessly hypercritical of everything Obama does?" Yeah. 2+2.

    April 5, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. Leslie Johnson

    Steele's statement was really a truth. He tried cover it over with weasel words. This is what will probably be his Waterloo. He cannot afford to admit that blacks are held to different standard than whites. He is basically admitting that if Barack Obama were white, he would not be called all of the different names that the Tea Party people are calling him.The repukers are not going to stand for that. Wow.

    April 5, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. Peter E

    Steele has been surrounded by controversy ever since he became chairman. He should step down not because of his race or his politics, but because he is incompetent and says stupid things. Every other word he says he has to apologize for an hour later to his own party. So why does the GOP even keep him? Are they afraid they'll be charged with racism if they tell Steele to step down? Do they really think THAT's what will make them look racist? It's too late for that. So they might as well go with someone competent instead, black or white.

    April 5, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. Alex Cosby

    The head of the Republican party is playing the race card. This is absolutely awesome.

    April 5, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. McLuhan

    Doesn't Steele have any swiftboat buddies that'll lie for him?

    April 5, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. Randy

    "The bottom line" in politics has become money, money, money–not "government for the people."

    April 5, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. jackson

    Start the pool on how many hours before Master Limbaugh calls him on the carpet.

    April 5, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. Prince

    It only proves that a Black Republican is an oxymoron

    April 5, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. MB, Maryland

    Don't try it Michael.......You defended a lot of the racism coming from your party, even when you knew they were wrong. Now you want to cry racism!? You can't have it both ways.

    April 5, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Casey

    Yes, race still exists in the United States, but It is wrong for Mr. Steele to make race complaints. I think that he is complaining to distract people from his RNC troubles. This is not the time for him to discuss about race issues. He need to solve his problems in the RNC.

    April 5, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. John D. Hater

    Well, you've finally opened your eyes, Mike!!! You were a token appointment and a reactionary move because of Obama's election. Your name is NOT Toby!!!!

    April 5, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Minnesotan

    So the Race Card seems to be convenient now huh? What about all the crap about Obama and the Race Card? All of a sudden THAT doesn't apply cuz its happening to you Mr Steele. Perfectly in line with the GOP style!

    April 5, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  19. politicalgirl

    Oh, now that Steele is in trouble he is trying to play the race card and has the nerves to try and relate himself to the president. idiot!

    April 5, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. Kenneth

    So what you're saying Mike, is that it's hard being the first black guy in that position because you're under a lot of scrutiny, you're being held to a higher standard, all your decisions will be second-guessed and you don't have much room for error? Is that what you're saying? Really?? REALLY???

    April 5, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. lynn

    You can be black, and smart. That narrows the margin. Maybe he's not too bright, ya think?????

    April 5, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. McLuhan

    So your finally admitting that the GOP is anti-black? Its not too late to apologize to the President. Not the he needs it, cause he is the President. Suck it up and stop being a wanna-be-narcissist! You're just not in the right tax bracket for your so-called constituents, that are now hanging you out to dry!

    April 5, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. RH

    Please. Even if Steele's correct, I don't see Obama or plenty of other blacks playing the victim.

    What all these, "poor me, I'm black/brown" people apparently don't realise (or perhaps they do) is that it's not the colour of their skin that arguably leads some to treat them unfairly. Rather, it's the self-hating, victimised, entitled attitude.

    April 5, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. Philip

    Seriously... can these guys quite playing the race card... We're "ok" with you being black.

    April 5, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. jjboston

    Why did he do it if he knew he had a slim margin of error. After all, it wasn't a surprise he had done all those things. He simply approved perception in people's minds was most of the time not wrong.

    April 5, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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