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. Donna Sue Mansfield

    I think Chairman Steele should resign his position, resign the Republican Party and then go hide his head in the sand so that no-one has to hear his ignorance any more.

    July 2, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. American Patriot - a "real" tea partier

    This war is President Obama's choosing????

    What planet is Steele living on? This was Bush's war! It's still Bush's war!

    July 2, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. MR AMERICA

    Wow....Steel is so fast to protest anything Obama does, even if it's something he inherited from Republicans or supported by the GOP!

    The fool is simply disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing.

    July 2, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. flatbroke

    Mr. Steele: STOP TALKING!! With every new week of your tenure, you insert your foot farther and farther. You are becoming a gross embarrassment to Republicans, and conservatives in general. JUST KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!

    July 2, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. JOhn

    This is without a doubt the most disgusting thing that I have ever heard come out of Steele's mouth. We are in Afghanistan to hunt down the perpetuators of 9/11. If we had stayed at it rather than going to Iraq the job would be done, but that is hindsight, and people do make errors. This is not Obama's war. This is the US response to Osama Bin Laden. Steele should be prosecuted for treason.

    July 2, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    "This was a war of Obama's choosing." WHAT?!?

    Steele has obviously lost what was left of his mind or is just so used to telling lies that he figures the bigger lie the better. Mr. Steele, Bush took us into this war, not Obama. That was in 2002, Obama became president in 2009 you idiot.

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    July 2, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Trent

    Is this guy serious. Everything that he spews out is a negative tonation. Never no solutions. "A war Obama chose" Steele you are such a looser. Go take a swim in the Gulf you share something in common...pollution to the planet!

    July 2, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Willie12345

    Steele has spent party money like a drunken sailor and needs to be replaced.

    July 2, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. rs

    Afghanistan IS un-winnable. Steele spoke the truth- and now Republicans and Conservatives go nuts. Go figure.

    July 2, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Will

    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."

    So Mr. Heye is a liar. Good to know that the RNC hires liars as their spokespeople. I'll keep this in mind on election day.

    July 2, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Rob

    I have a sure fire way to clean up the oil spill... all Republicans in the US should go down to the Gulf with a straw and start to suck! They're so good at it, I think they should be able to clean it up in no time!

    July 2, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Jon in Rochester NY

    They've blamed the bad economy on O'bama, the first bank bailout on Obama, and now he's responsible for starting the war in Afghanistan!!

    These are all things that started under GWB. These GOP kooks live in a dream world.

    July 2, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Enoughalready

    More of those Republican shennanigens! They will nver learn, will they? Seems they are completely out of touch, or are listening to Sarah and Rush, and not the people. We will see you in November, buh bye!!!!!!!

    July 2, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  14. Dave Harris

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

    Are we rewriting history here? I distinctly remember that it was George W. Bush who started that war, and failed to finish it. Anyway, it's pretty clear that Republicans want America to lose the war, so they can blame it on Obama. As for Steele, if they kick him out there really won't be any black peoiple in the Republican party.

    July 2, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. AverageJoe

    How is this a war of Obama's choosing. This was the war we should have fought all along instead of Iraq. This started under Bush, rightfully so before he lost focus. I think Steele is an idiot and needs to go. He has been an embarassment for the Republicans but they are too scared to let him go. They need direction, not pointing fingers that will point back to them.

    July 2, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. Dave

    Republicans have lost their freakin' minds. It's hard enough taking grown-up adults seriously when they believe in magical fantasy figures, and still think their policies are the wisest when the areas of the country that elect Republicans most often are also the ones that lag the rest of the nation, but now Steele wants us to believe that a war that Bush started was a "war of Obama's choosing."

    And we're supposed to believe that?

    I was against the Iraq war because it was tactically idiotic. I support the war in Afghanistan, because that's where our actual enemies were located. Whether it's wise to continue it at this point is debatable... but that it's a "war of Obama's choosing" is completely ridiculous, and Steele is insulting the nation's intelligence by even trying to float that meme.

    July 2, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. MatthewDetroit

    Time to go Steele.

    July 2, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Corp. Madharchod

    "responsibility for building and maintaining that strategy falls squarely on the shoulders of the President."........

    yeh – atleast ONE modhapakkah speaks honestly and the truth!!

    So did the previous President(s) who started all these fu%#$@%$#ng wars... Unanswered question is WHY is it that the GOP is ALWAYS ahead in increasing defense spending, budget and the BS???

    Is ANYONE listening to you the "Man of Steele" !!!

    July 2, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Twainland

    The RNC is too stubborn to admit their attempt at tokenism has failed miserably. He's not going anywhere.

    July 2, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Macadamia

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

    is this guy really serious. I am sure he is not that stupid and I am sure he is not 2 years old -he does not look like it- because every one over 2 years old knows very well that it was bush who chose this war. The size of his memory might be as tiny as that of mosquito.

    July 2, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. Tony Simmons

    Excuse me!

    George Bush started all of this mess and you are totally incorrect.

    July 2, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. Bobby in Atlanta

    Sounds like Steele is wanting to re-write history in typical Republican fashion. Where was his voice of opposition during the wars first seven and a half years? They all make me sick.

    July 2, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    "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."

    That's a joke right? A stab at comedy it has to be. There's no response to that statement. Absolutely speechless. Obama should understand that the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? Is Steele that incompetent? Good God.

    July 2, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. KeithA

    Another pathetic Republitard opens mouth, inserts foot, vomits idiotic lies. Nothing new to see here. Keep moving, please.

    July 2, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Linda

    As much as I dislike Michael Steele I agree with his (logic?) about the war being unwinnable. Simply stating an opinion doesn't make this a criticism of the U.S. as a country. Republicans are the worse hypocrites. I mean how can one be pro life and pro war at the same time? Sounds like an oxymoron to me.

    July 2, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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