July 2nd, 2010
12:47 PM ET
4 years ago

Kristol says Steele needs to go; RNC defends

RNC Chairman Michael Steele is under fire for comments he made on the war in Afghanistan.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele is under fire for comments he made on the war in Afghanistan.

(CNN) – As a leading conservative voice is calling on Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to resign his post, the RNC is defending the chairman's recent statements that appeared to criticize of the United States' war effort in Afghanistan and suggest the conflict there may be unwinnable.

"The Chairman clearly supports our troops but believes that success of the war effort in Afghanistan requires the ongoing support of the American people," RNC Communications Director Dough Heye said.

In a speech at a Republican fundraiser in Connecticut Thursday, a YouTube video shows the RNC chairman declaring of the war in Afghanistan, "This was a war of Obama's choosing."

"This is not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in," he added.

Updated 2:30 p.m. ET with a statement from Michael Steele. Read the statement after the jump.

That statement is at odds with the fact the United States led a NATO coalition with overwhelming public support to invade Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and has prompted William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, to publicly call on Steele to step down.

"There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they're certainly entitled to make their case. But one of them shouldn't be the chairman of the Republican party," Kristol wrote.

Speaking at the Connecticut fundraiser, Steele also appeared to suggest any conflict in Afghanistan may be unwinnable.

"Well if [Obama's] such a student of history, has he not understood that that's the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan. Alright? Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan without committing more troops," Steele he said in expressing a position that is not only at odds with the White House but most of the Republican Party as well.

Heye said Steele was making the point that "[t]he responsibility for building and maintaining that strategy falls squarely on the shoulders of the President."

"Like so many Americans, Chairman Steele wants to hear an explanation from President Obama on what his strategy is for winning the war in Afghanistan," Heye added.

Heye also pointed out that "nowhere did Steele say or suggest that (a) we shouldn't be there, (b) we can't win or (c) he didn't support the surge."

Update: Steele issued a statement Friday afternoon. Read it below.

“As we enter the Fourth of July weekend, I proudly remember standing with Maryland National Guardsmen on their way to the Middle East and later stood with the mothers of soldiers lost at war. There is no question that America must win the war on terror.

“During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan. Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy. And, for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war.

“As we have learned throughout history, winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task. We must also remember that after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, it is also a necessary one. That is why I supported the decision to increase our troop force and, like the entire United States Senate, I support General Petraeus’ confirmation. The stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan.”


Filed under: GOP • Michael Steele • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (268 Responses)
  1. Caborican

    You are an ignorant black man. You are a disgrace to your race. Get off the podium. Your wife, children and family members should be embarrassed and ashamed of you. If they aren't, they are just as bad as you are Mr. Steele.

    July 2, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. The Watcher

    This puppet is an idiot. As an african american, he wants to show to everybody that he is more conservative than the average conservative, that he doing his job by running his mouth against Obama. We know that most of the GOP do not like black people, I say most, not everybody, with steele, they just want to show that it is not true!!! Actually how many African American are in the GOP??? This Steele is a puppet, period, he's just making fool of himself, that's all. I'm not saying blacks shouldn't be part of the GOP, but the ideology they have...Wow...I feel sorry for them, with the tea baggers..racist...Good luck with your heart full of hatred!!!

    July 2, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Bob Ramos

    "Well if [Obama's] such a student of history, has he not understood that that's the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan. Alright? Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan without committing more troops," Steele he said in expressing a position that is not only at odds with the White House but most of the Republican Party as well.
    --------------------------

    Miracles still happen. Pigs are flying; people in hell have cold water and a pretty girl winked at me.

    Steele is all wet when he says Obama started the Afghan war and he knows Bush was President then. But he is 100% right in saying that we cannot win in Afghan (we cannot lose neither). This will remain true even if we stay 40 more years and are willing to endure the price in lives and treasure to be there.

    July 2, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. 66Biker

    "This was a war of Obama's choosing."

    He misspelled Bush. It's B-U-S-H. He is right that this war is (as opposed to was) not something the people of the United States wanted to engage in. But let's get the facts strait here. The war in Afghanistan was started by George W. Bush, therefore it was his choice, not Obama's.

    July 2, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Schmuck Steele has a short memory: Bush started this war in Afghanistan just as he did in Iraq....

    RESIGN, MORON

    July 2, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. mike

    Michael Steele is a idiot,does he ever think before he opens that pie hole of his.

    July 2, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  7. leadanitus

    Ok the repubs is getting a severe a case of amnesia; let me remind them that OBAMA inherit this war from BUSH, TRUE-FULLY bush got America in some deep do-do the American economy collapse under him, gas prices was at a all time high, bankbailouts, homes and auto industry went bankrupt, and the two wars,......all inherit to President Obama; God bless you Mr. President!

    July 2, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. LOVESIRONY

    statement is at odds with the fact

    So ? Republicans don't care about facts.

    After another blunder his spokesman again trys to say what he meant.

    Send in the clowns, there ought to be clowns, don't bother they're here!

    July 2, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Julia- Idaho Native American

    Yep, he needs to go and take the whole damn republican party with him, let's buy then a hand basket to get there. The tea baggin' repubs are already there. Hallelujah! Hal-le-lu-jah! We ain't talkin heaven.

    July 2, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. Tommy from Ohio

    Rats on a sinking ship...rats on a sinking ship, the party of NO will be NO more in NOvember!

    July 2, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. Julia- Idaho Native American

    Yep, he needs to go and take the whole damn republican party with him, let's buy them a hand basket to get there. The tea baggin' repubs are already there. Hallelujah! Hal-le-lu-jah! We ain't talkin heaven

    July 2, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. ANTI-GOP

    This is a complete OUTRAGE! The Republicans need to take responsibility for what they say. It is bad enough Fox News is alowed to get away with the kind of retoric they spew forth, this is just unacceptable when the leader of a party absurds reality this much.

    July 2, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  13. infidel

    I don't believe what I'm reading. Is this Repubspeak at its finest? The Chairman conveniently forgot that a Republican President got us into this "unwinnable war". I bet he never heard of the Viet Nam war either. Chairman Steele seems to be more a student of George Orwell than of history.

    July 2, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  14. kevin

    If this is not the pot calling the kettle black. The repubs called people, including me, traitors, if I complained of the war in Iraq, in years past. But now, just to complain, and try to sound relevant, they say the same things about Afghanistan. Actually, this action is even more to the point of terrorists. I have always supported our troops, I just want their sacrifice to mean something to this countries safety. Not for Bush's ego, or Chaney and his friend's pockets. We are not in a war like all the ones that failed here before, we are trying to help people become empowered to run their own country. We should have started here, and finished here, instead of Iraq. I am neither repub or dem, but their selfishness, greed, desire of power, and stupidity, will make us a 3rd world country in 30 years. Talk about the real issues, not smoke screen...look at the man behind the curtain, not the wizard image.Lead the world in alternative energy, that we can sell them, and jobs, and economy, will fix themselves. All it takes is the will.

    July 2, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. Angie

    If RNC wins, we loose. Please remember this people. More I watching them coming to the power at any cost, more I disgust with the republicans. We are going down as a Country and they did a lot to make sure that we are going down, now they think they will regain the power because of peoples growing anger. I hope that when they will get that power back, they will choke on it. And buy the way we did maid one person rich her name is Palin, she got all her millions on brain washing people, and then maid them her slaves her bitches. I hope she will choke on those money too, I really do.

    July 2, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  16. cara

    I'm a Democrat. I have long wondered why the Republican party has tolerated such an inarticulate, scandal prone, and ineffective spokesperson as Mr. Steele. But looking around at the landscape - who is the party going to choose to replace him– I think this is the primary problem for individuals such as William Kristol. The entire party is without vision, direction, leadership, or ideas. Replacing the mouthpiece won't make a meaningful change in the content of their empty, ill conceived message.

    July 2, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  17. John J, IN

    He DOES need to go. I am a lifelong Republican, but I am not giving a DIME to the RNC while this clown is in charge. Idiotic statements, adult clubs, mismanagement of money, completely ineffectual anything.

    Not getting a DIME from me until he and his cronies are gone. Obama isn't that bad of an alternative to this clown.

    July 2, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. mike

    It was a war of Obama's choosing??? I thought we have been in there since bushs first term....

    July 2, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. DJ in TX

    Steele is an idiot. All of a sudden, this is Obama's war. So what happened the previous 7 years? I don't remember him saying anything about President Bush's strategy (which was none). Obama is right. If we had not taken our eye off the Taliban and Afghanistan, I don't think we'd be in this situation now.

    All of a sudden, this war is "unwinnable". History should be read, he states..........well, shouldn't President Bush have read that same history??? He's the one that sent us there in the 1st place........and underfunded, mismanaged and didn't concentrate on it. For some odd reason, he wanted to go into Iraq, who never attacked, were not a real threat, no WMD;s, and lost over 4000 lives. Can someone explain what benefit we have gotten from our presence in Iraq??

    July 2, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. KJ

    Once again, Republicans playing politics will our young men are fighting their war. Mr. Steele has attempted to rewrite history. We led NATO into Afghanstan based on solid evidence the Taliban was behind the 9/11 attack. It was a decision that was right and supported by the American public. Instead of completing the job, the Republican administration in charge of the war decided to start another war in Iraq. This war was not justified as it was based on faulty information and had not connection to 9/11. This war distratcted from the main mission of taking down those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Now, Steele and his cronies are demanding an explanation for the war strategy. While this is actually a reasonable request, it is interesting they never asked the same question of the previous adminstration. The surge strategy that was so successful in Iraq and has been pushed by some many Republicans is the strategy the President is executing.

    When Steele goes, I hope Rep. Boehner, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Sen. McConnell are on the same bus!

    July 2, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Tulsa

    What a douche. Obama started the war? REALLY?!?!?!?!

    What part of YOU LIE don't YOU get?
    Typical Republican. LIE, LIE, LIE.

    July 2, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. Greg

    I would like to remind Chairman Steele that the war in Afganistan was started by President Bush, and the War in Iraq was Started by President Bush. It was President Bush who down sized the troops in Afganistan utlimatley putting the United States in the Position we are in today. It was President Bush the LIED to the american people and the world in the war that was illegally started in Iraq. Chairman Steele needs to Step down from the RNC, he is a disgrace to the Republicans, to the American People and to the United States.

    July 2, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. AK Steve

    "This was a war of Obama's choosing."

    Talk about rewriting history. The GOP is trying to convince us that Obama started this war?

    OMG! Seems like everything the GOP screwed up (the war, the economy and the environment) are somehow someone else's fault. Typical GOP unaccountability.

    Disgusting. Get these guys out of leadership.

    July 2, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Michael Bindner, Alexandria VA

    Steele is half right. Obama did chose to emphasize this war and to end the years of neglect on this front caused by Bush's war of choice. This was a war caused by the Russians, however, and joined covertly by the CIA under Carter. We befriended a movement that is now attacking us. We created this monster and must find a way to live with it or kill it – the latter probably not being possible. It is time to end the myth of Afghanistan, partition the country along tribal lines, find other sponsors for each tribe (Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan) and go home.

    July 2, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Scott

    I actually agree with Steele's original statement. Think of the money that is used on that war that could be used in other areas to improve the economy and our country. What is there to win, when the residents of those countries don't want to break away from the Taliban? Just send in the drones, and take our troops out of harms way.

    July 2, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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