Washington (CNN) – Prominent Republican strategist Alex Castellanos called on Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele to step down Tuesday after a series of embarrassing headlines raised questions about Steele's ability to lead the party into November's elections.
"I think a change in the direction now, at this point, would do the party good," Castellanos told CNN's "The Situation Room."
Castellanos a CNN political contributor, described Steele as a "good man, a very decent man and a tremendously talented man." But he said he had stopped serving as an informal advisor to Steele because "I lost my ability to be of service to the RNC."
But in an earlier interview on the same show, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani expressed confidence in Steele, saying that the RNC chairman "should remain exactly where he is."
Giuliani noted that Republicans picked up the Virginia and New Jersey governor's offices, as well as the seat held by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, on Steele's watch.
"I think Michael Steele has us on a good track," Giuliani said.
Steele's chief of staff resigned Monday, and another key political ally cut ties with the chairman the same day. The Republican Party now appears to be dividing into two camps over Steele's future.
Tuesday, New Hampshire RNC member Sean Mahoney accused Steele of spending donor's money with "reckless disregard" and resigned his position on the committee. Sam Fox, an RNC fundraiser and former U.S. ambassador to Belgium, also has parted ways with the national committee. But former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is siding with Giuliani when it comes to Steele's fate.
"I think Michael Steele is capable of taking us through the midterm elections," Gingrich told NBC's "Today."
"My advice would be to appoint a respected outside authority to review everything," Gingrich said. "The fact is, they have fired the young person who made the big mistake that has gotten all the noise. The fact is, Michael Steele has raised a lot of money, campaigned very aggressively, helped win in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts."
Critics charge that Steele is misusing party funds - including using private jets - as Republicans head into the midterm elections with less money than Democrats. The party's House and Senate campaign committees rely on the national parties to help fund efforts in the midterm election years.
Last week, Steele also came under fire from social conservatives after reports surfaced that the RNC had picked up a nearly $2,000 tab at a bondage-themed West Hollywood nightclub for a group of young donors. A few days later, Democrats distributed an RNC fundraising solicitation that had a misprinted number sending callers to a phone sex line.
Steele also had to distance himself from an internal party document that described high-level Republican donors as "ego-driven" and suggested enticing them with "tchochkes" while urging "visceral" appeals to small donors.
Steele e-mailed all 168 RNC members Monday evening to tell them of chief of staff Ken McKay's departure, and he accepted responsibility for the recent incidents that cast the RNC in a bad light. But Castellanos said he thinks that Steele "has lost the support" of Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and "more importantly, he's lost the support of a lot of our major donors."
"(It's) the donors who provide the money, the lifeblood, the oxygen the Republican Party needs to succeed on its mission to take back control of the House," said Castellanos. He said the money GOP candidates need to compete in November "is frozen," adding, "Perhaps a change in leadership here would thaw that and allow that support to flow."
Castellanos, a principal in the GOP consulting firm National Media Inc., has worked on the presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain, former
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President George W. Bush's re-election, as well as for numerous other Republican candidates.