Washington (CNN) – Despite his trademark bluster, Michael Steele hasn't exactly been committal when facing questions about a possible second term as Republican National Committee chairman.
"It's in the hands of the members," he shrugged to reporters at the RNC's winter meeting in Hawaii.
But in an unorthodox interview with a conservative journalist posted online Monday, Steele proclaimed that a second term is all but certain - and he brushed aside news of a potential challenge from former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman.
"Norm is an old friend. Norm is not going to challenge me for RNC chairman," Steele declared in phone interview with journalist Evan Gahr, who called Steele at his home posing as a GOP donor. "If he does I'll put my record up against anyone who comes after to me. I feel confident we'll get re-elected. I'm not worried about that part of it."
An RNC spokesman verified the authenticity of the July 26 phone call, which Gahr transcribed on his website under the headline, "Punking Michael Steele."
Steele, unaware that he was speaking to a reporter, boasted that his win and loss record "is better than any chairman in the last 10 years," a dubious claim considering that the vast majority of 2010 races have yet to be decided.
When Gahr revealed his true identity, Steele questioned his journalistic ethics. But Steele also admitted he wouldn't have answered questions had Gahr identified himself as a reporter.
"If I did you wouldn't have talked to me," Gahr told him.
"That's probably true because I'm not doing any interviews," Steele answered. "Activists call all the time. They don't try to sneak an interview. That is not kosher."