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. GP

    As an independent, neither party is particularly palatable. However, I find the RNC and their vast and influential media infrastructure to be nothing more than a bottle ipecac.

    Their message is indigestible and leaves a foul after taste.

    There are many things Kristol has said and published that are just as unsavory and devoid of facts as what Steele said in the video.

    It's called politics and it isn't for the faint of heart.

    But we have seen how the members of RNC have governed once they have control of the levers. And we are still trying to correct the course they started on in 1995 and ran through 2006.

    July 2, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  2. Debbie Gomez

    That's the GOP...always trying to rewrite history. Well, let them try. In an age when you can't do or say anything anywhere without a cellphone camera or microphone close enough to hear and tape your hypocrisy, it's easy enough to "out" it when happens....from those in either party. As for Chairman Steele, I personally hope the GOP continues defending him and leaves him just where he is. Between Steele acting the bafoon and constantly sticking his foot in his mouth, and Sarah Palin giving a speech in CA not knowing that Reagan didn't in fact grow up in CA or go to the college there she said he did, is pure fodder for me. And alas, that's just 1 example of the ill-prepared Sarah Palin shooting off her mouth without having a clue what she's talking about. You would think when it was Reagan, she'd at least have a clue. But I guess you don't really learn much about doing homework when you jump from college to college...to college to college....to college.

    July 2, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. The Real Me

    I agree, the war is unwinnable. We just need to stay out of everyone else's yards. And yes, I am a retired (22years) military guy.

    July 2, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history, has failed. "

    Point of order: while I agree with use of this fact in a general sense, one must still acknowledge that Amurika played an active role...and not an insignificant one...in thwarting any chance the Russians had of making any progress in their bid to tame Afghanistan, which is a major caveat when citing the historical fact of universal failure there.

    July 2, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. BigGrant

    This nut case needs to go. He is a "plant" from the Democrats. He is a whack job and should be buddies with Obama.

    July 2, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. maf

    Steele must be losing his mind? The war in Afghanistan is "unwinnable"??? Where was this statement when Cheney, Rove and
    Shrub got America into it????

    Wars in countries where the Western World has little idea about the depth of the conflict are absolutely "unwinnable". This is true with both Iraq and Afghanistan. There is only occupation and the hope that it brings some stability to the country once forces are withdrawn.

    Steele dropping this on President Obama's lap is pathetic. This administration did not begin this crap and the GOP trying to once again change history just shows how completely off the mark they are.

    What this will do is provide a good round of infighting within the Republicans. Only the fools will survive.

    Vote this current edition of the Party of NO out whenever you get a chance!!

    July 2, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Mr. Moderate

    If Mr. Steele's such a student of history, why was he not raising objections to this war in 2001 when a Republican president started it. This is not a war of "Obama's choosing". It was one of the many problems he inherited.

    This war could have been done by now if Bush has focused on it – the real cause of 9/11 – rather than ignoring it and letting it fester while he diverted resources to settling the family vendetta in Iraq.

    Actual quote – "Saddam Hussein is not a nice man, he tried to kill my dad."

    July 2, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. oklahoma

    Mr Steele you and the rest of the world no why GOP chose you to be the token one.They have got all the mileage out of you they wanted and it all back-fired so now they are ready to throw your ass to the wolves you got what you deserved.

    July 2, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  9. Steve

    We have been fighting this war for less than ten years but this war is a Civil War between Kaizai's group of people and the hill tribesmen
    for around 300 years every since they kicked out the Persians.
    Kaisai's side has always been able to secure allies like the British and other people among the Muslims from the old Russian territories to help them fight the hill tribesmen.
    Keep helping Kaizai's side and the Civil War will continue for another 300 years. The hill tribesmen will never give up because they look upon Kaizai side as traitors for siding with infidels like the British and other outside groups.
    In the early 1800 the tribemen destroyed one complete British army
    except for a British Doctor who they let go after the battle probably for treating their wounded. There is a famous painting of him riding a horse to Kabul after the battle.

    July 2, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. William O'Connor

    On the contrary, I think Steele, Limbaugh, Beck, and O'Reilly should remain the voices of the Republicans. All are insular, have no credibility, and are bought and sold by Ruppert Murdoch and big corporations.
    The Democrats are bought and paid for as well, and, like all politicians, they are liars. But at least their lies are consistent.
    The Republicans are not only liars, and revisionists, they're not sure from day to dy waht they are mad about, never mind finding solutions. One minute McCain wants to bomb Iran, next minute when they're rioting in the streets, he says we should have helped them.
    One minute they're screaming, "deficits don't matter," "drill baby drill." and "nvade Afghanistan" now all of that Obama's fault.
    What?

    July 2, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. garc

    Wait a minute–I thought there was "no" litmus test among the republicans. What are they going to do without their token black person to prove how un-racist they are (while they say things like all Hispanics crossing the border are drug mules, and "we already have one raghead in office," etc.?

    July 2, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  12. Donald

    Hey steele you freaking idiot. this war didnt start 1/20/2009. It started in 10/2001 under republican leader. Man u are a distrace to our country and race

    July 2, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. CaliforniaBC

    Steele is the one with a poor historical understanding. We went to Afghanistan for a legitimate reason. BUSH dropped his focus on the war to enter into ANOTHER unwarranted war in Iraq leaving the efforts in Afghanistan to founder. IF there is ANYONE to blame it is Bush for not finishing the job started there.

    And to those people who want to stop hearing about Bush being at fault, well I guess you will need earplugs because his and his administration actions will have long lasting repercussions for this country. Those are the facts.

    July 2, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. Ronald Dauphin

    I agree Steele must go.We need a leader like Sarah Palin.

    July 2, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  15. Michael Trout

    Steele is clearly incompetent; he's supposed to keep his low regard for republican voters under the radar, as Kristol does. Also, there are some VERY important republicans making big $ off this war so shut your yap and get with the program.

    July 2, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. midwest liberal

    What planet is Michael Steele on exactly?

    July 2, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. RTB

    What a lame brain, idiotic,' boy from the hood wanna be' Steele is.

    He doesn't know that it was from Afghanistan we were attacked on 9/11?

    Steele is a disgrace. He brings shame to the American people.

    Obama didn't choose to have American troops fight in Afghanistan. The President inherited a misguided war in Iraq that never should have been.

    We should have prosecuted the Afghanistan war whole heartedly under the Bush/Cheney failed administration.

    July 2, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. Chuck T

    Yeah, let the GOBPers try to tag this as Obama's war. How easily they try to make everyone forget Dubya’s legacy. The grand ole party of liars is amazing. How anyone can still vote for these hypocrites is amazing to me.

    July 2, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Lemonton

    Funny how white conservative don't waste an opportunity to ask Michael 'token' Steele to step down. I guess they figure with Obama's poll
    numbers going down they don't have an use for their token anymore. What I am
    surprised is how long Steele has been able to hang in there. But don't be mistaken, republican white leadership don't want Steele there. Steele has used the race card very successfully to make the RNC swallow him, but they will get rid of him sooner than later

    July 2, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Vote No to the Party of NO

    "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."

    Then what did Steele say? Oh, that's right the usual – Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    July 2, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Wilson James

    My, my the GOP is in trouble. Look at who speaks for them, and what they say: Palin, Steele, Limbaugh, Glenn Beck....why soesn't the party rally around the effective, intelligent ones like Pawlenty and Romney?

    July 2, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Tom

    Waaaaiiit a second.. did Steele mix up Obama with Bush? Obama didn't get us into this war; that was the old white guy he used to support.

    July 2, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. pam

    I hope this token Chairman never steps down. He does a wonderful job for the Democrats.
    He gives the RNC a very big black eye and I really appreciate that.

    July 2, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. Chris in CA

    This is Hilarious! The head of the RNC is blames the War in Afghanistan on Obama and gives an impromptu military history lesson on the Russian’s failures in the 80’s.

    The Bush administration started the war in Afghanistan (you know this as fact unless u have been in a coma or living under a rock since 2003.) ….
    He forgets that Russia’s failures in Afghanistan were aided by the United States CIA’s financial support of Osama bin Laden and the rebel Afghan mujahideen.
    Ironically, The US lead Coalition forces in Afghanistan are having similar problems,
    due to covert support of the Taliban from Pakistan and Iran.

    It’s a complex war …….playing The Blame Game / Political Football with it is reckless.

    July 2, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. PR

    Steele is a freakin idiot! GWB got us into the war in Afghanistan looking for Bin Laden. I guess that Steele in too stupid to read the history. The republican party is lost with this clown in control.

    July 2, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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