Washington (CNN) – Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele spent Saturday calling GOP lawmakers and elected party officials to explain his controversial remarks on Afghanistan and to try to build support against calls for his resignation.
“He is reaching out to prominent Republicans, members of Congress, senators and members of the committee,” an RNC spokesman told CNN on Saturday. “And he has gotten strong support from Republican leaders.”
Steele is under fire from fellow Republicans for saying at a fundraiser Thursday in Connecticut that the war in Afghanistan “was a war of Obama’s choosing.” The RNC chairman also said that "This is not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”
Steele’s statement contradicts the fact that the U.S. led a NATO coalition with overwhelming public support to invade Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Steele’s remarks were recorded and posted on YouTube.
Republicans ranging from Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol to Liz Cheney have called on Steele to step down. Former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson also told CNN that Steele should resign. On Saturday, The Washington Times reported that North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth was considering challenging Steele when the RNC chairman’s election occurs in January, and Politico quoted Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, urging Steele to step down.
Unless Steele leaves on his own terms, right now it appears as though he will remain in his post until his two-year term as chairman ends early next year. It requires a vote by two-thirds of the 168 members of the Republican National Committee to remove a chairman from office, a high threshold both numerically and politically. At this time, it would be difficult to convince that many committee members to vote to remove Steele as chairman, several committee members and senior GOP strategists told CNN. Politically, there is very little appetite to showcase this internal party fight four months prior to the midterm elections.
“People are frustrated,” an RNC member, who spoke freely on the condition of anonymity, said in an interview. The RNC member said the hope is to convince Steele that “He shouldn’t run for re-election.”
Steele has not indicated if he plans on seeking a second term as head of the party.
Steele’s tenure at the RNC has been marked by electoral successes and public relations blunders and questions about his management. Since Steele became chairman, Republicans have won the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia, a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, and a U.S. House seat in Hawaii. Yet, Steele’s off-the-cuff remarks have gotten him in trouble with fellow Republicans including his much publicized spat with conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. He has also come under fire for some questionable spending by the committee and for lack of oversight of the RNC’s finances.
“We were just starting to make some progress, unifying the party, coordinating our plan,” said another RNC member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “And this is the latest slap at that.”
Updated: 5:37 p.m.
Michael has a way of throwing things out there. I am not a fan of Michael Steele and to suggest Afghanastan is Obama's war is rediculous. However, to suggest that no one has ever beat them, unfortunately, is on target. Where was Michael when Bush was bombing. I will say that I am tired of people jumping on someone because they say what no one wants to hear. Why not try to digest the comment and take out of it what make sense. We have spent a lot of blood and treasure in the middle east – and for what – corporate contracts!! Our activities in the middle east are despicable – we need to get out and stop getting Americans killed. It's a hard thing to do but it has to be done.
It's for Mickie Mouse Steel to step down, since his election as Chairman of the RNC we have witness the same old garbage tactics since the Bush & Co years. He needs to step down now, his attacks on the current POTUS and misdirection of his understanding of the Afghan War is proof that the RNC has lost touch with it's base, and their fail attempt to bring in a new generation of young republicans is not working while Mike the misguided is still the Chairman, Liz Cheney has also called for him to resign, Michael Steel has lost all credible standing with RNC and it's members.
Michael Steel is an embarrassment, his disrespect to all 911 victims and thousands of US and Coalition Military Personnel that have killed or injured. Americans from all political parties should call their elected officials and or their RNC/DNC headquarters and make the outrage heard together we all can make difference in ending Michael Steels Career in politics once and for all.
I support Steele – I think Obama made him say those stupid things
Ask any Tea Partier they'll tell you – The Bible say that the Socialist leader will have many strange powers over man.
CNN, everyone is asking the same question about your future – Why did you decide to become a Right-Wing rag, I mean you swung to the Right leaving your loyal viewers standing in the center, now even me, former CNN addict no longer feel I can trust you to be objective, so I now go to Network news Web sites for my fix.
Do you guys realize that you will never gain the loyalty of the Right-Wingers instead you will just keep bleeding viewers/readers, because you left us we didn't leave you.
As an Independent I look for unbiased news, facts and balance, you guys are supplying neither.
Steele- Maybe you should play some golf –take in a baseball game –take a permanent vacation.
Shouldn't Steele be begging forgiveness from the American people he blatantly lied to and insulted, instead of to his GOP puppet-masters?
Steele was not the reason that Republicans won elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
Obama was the reason.
Most Americans want less spreading around of the wealth than Obama requires for votes.
Let me pull my strings and hope russ limsum will pull the right strings to get me out of this mess