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. Matt

    Are you kidding me!?! I can't believe how dillusional some people are.... What a crock of rhetorical B.S. Now the republican's are going to blame Obama for getting us into never ending wars? This lying and halftruth crap has to stop... It's not good for our country as a whole.

    July 2, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Andrea Anderson

    Trying to leave for my vacation, but I had to respond with a question-Please refresh my memory-Did we not go into Afghanistan under the Bush administration? Hello??????????

    July 2, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. GL

    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."

    Steele the clown is so bet on going toe toe with President Obama has casue him to make a stupid statement like this one. Bush and his cronies starting the Afghan war you CLOWN.

    July 2, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Linda, Dallas

    How can this be Obama's war when this "should not have happen war" been going on for over 8 years and counting? Atleast he is trying to end a war that was only meant to make Bush's and Chaney's pockets fatter.

    July 2, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Dan

    Wow, he must be lobbying for a consultant position on Fox News. That's just the type of brash, facts be damned opinion piece they are looking for.

    July 2, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Lisa P

    Steele pledges his true allegiance: "No," now, forever and always. Too bad he wasn't saying it back when Bush got us into this mess and his morally bankrupt party was bankrupting us. But, hey, never too late to learn...

    July 2, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. Ben in Texas

    News flash from the Repugnant Big Lie Machine! President Obama started the war in Afghanistan!

    Sure, Michael.

    July 2, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. Rosslaw

    Steele and Company literally recreate reality to fit whatever message they wish to spew forth at a given moment without the slightest concern for the lucidity of the message, let alone the lack of veracity, that they can't keep track of what has really happened on this planet. Steel be removed if he did not know the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001-02, but then again he accurately represents his party. Did any of the Republicans in the crowd he addressed know that Obama did not select the Afghan war, 740,000 jobless the month of Jan. 2009, a US military on the verge of collapse and an economy going over the cliff. Thanks you genuises.

    July 2, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. waheid

    Steele really has problem with his memory. The war in Afghanistan was begun during the term of the Idiot Bush (R). Obama campaigned on a theme of ending U.S. participation in the war, turning over fighting responsibility to the Afghans. The most vocal opposition to this is from Sen. McCain (R), who opposes a timetable for exiting. McCain's plan would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistant beyond Obama's planned drawdown, scheduled to being in July 2011.

    Once again, Steel has a problem with keeping his foot out of his mouth and his brain (such as it is) engaged.

    July 2, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. Gil

    Why stop with Steele. Get rid of the whole Party!

    July 2, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  11. James

    The war in Afghanistan was the choosing of Bush because it was the Taliban who harbored Bin Laden when the twin towers were destroyed.

    After the fall of the Taliban he decided to focus on Iraq while leaving Afghanistan on the back burner for 6 years until Obama came into office. This allowed the Taliban regrouped during that time frame which makes it much harder to regain what we won.

    Furthermore Steele is making an argument that is basically distracting.

    July 2, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. Limbaugh is a liberal

    I see... so when a democrat calls a war unwinnable it's treason, but when the head of the RNC says it it's somehow okay?

    July 2, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. ryan

    Michael Steele is a prime example of the new say anything, even make it up, if it looks like it will hurt Obama GOP.

    They've lost touch with reality and they're hoping they can encourage voters to do the same.

    There isn't one principal of civility or basic decency they won't upend now. They want to damage him by any means necessary and they end up damaging themselves. I can't believe how sophomoric they've become.

    July 2, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. John

    Can I have some of the STUFF that Mr. Steele smokes, if I am not mistaken it was Mr. Bush who sent the troops into Afghanistan and Irqa to get Bin Ladden.
    Mr. Obama has to finish up the SH_T that Bush started.

    July 2, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. djw

    OMG – he is an Idiot!!

    July 2, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. JTHawaii

    The culmination of Let's blame everything on Obama...

    July 2, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Garviel

    What an Idiot! Dummy Idiot at that! How is this war, "A War of Obama's Choosing" Has Michael "I am an Idiot" Steele sleep the last nine years?

    July 2, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. ST

    Steele has been a baggage to GOP right from the beginning when he was chosen. Any team working without a common goal can't achieve anything. Steele is sailing on the wrong boat. He better jump from it or be forced to get out of it!

    July 2, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Mushmouth strikes again! However, I must disagree with Kristol if for no other reason than I hate him more...and besides, it's far more damaging to keep Mushmouth where he is, spouting off at the mushmouth, fabricating things and engaging in general conservative fantasyland nutjobbery.

    July 2, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Laughter

    Ha! Repulicans are saying there is no point in being in a war and blaming it on THIS president? Pure laughter. What a joke!

    July 2, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Charlie Johnson

    A war of Obama's choosing? Not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in? Has Mr. Steele lost his mind? Of all the many bizarre statements he has made, this is certainly the strangest to date. But it's typical of most Republicans, who seem ready to attack Obama from ANY position and usually from ALL of them simultaneously. They have no coherent position on anything, no plan for anything, and are quite willing to sink this country 40 fathoms deep in hell if it offers them any hope of bringing Obama down.

    July 2, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. BlackBarbie

    Michael Steele your'e day is coming buddy!

    July 2, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. guest

    Does this flipping idiot not remember who was President when this
    war started? The Repugs were all for it when W was Pres. , but now
    it's all Obama's fault ? Does he really think that all Americans are that
    stupid Or was he just talking to his Repug idiots?

    July 2, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. Just Me

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

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

    ----------------–
    Wrong Mr. Steele: The Afghan war was not a war of Obama's choosing; it was one of Bush's choosing after the country was attacked on 911. How quickly some people forget the facts.

    With respect to the Afghan war not being something the U.S. actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in, my question to Mr. Steele is this: Where were you when Bush made that decison and executed it? What did you have to say then.

    Steele you are a token looser. It's just a matter of time before your are history...a laughing stock in the back of the history books.

    July 2, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Insanity

    Steele says "this was a war of Obamas choosing"
    Bush sent us into Afghanistan before Iraq
    What is in the drinking water in Washington ???

    July 2, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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