Kansas City, Missouri (CNN) - Facing questions about whether he can win a second term as chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele boasted Friday that he has re-shaped the committee from an unwieldy top-down behemoth into an agile grassroots organization with a record of success.
Appearing before committee members at the RNC summer meeting while donning a bright red cap emblazoned with the slogan "Fire Pelosi!," Steele painted a rosy picture of GOP unity ahead of the midterm elections.
"Thank goodness we have Republican 527s that are ready to go out and fight with us," Steele said, a reference to a several independent groups formed partly in response to concerns over RNC's dwindling financial muscle.
The RNC had $10.9 million in the bank at the end of June but pledged this week to raise $60 million more before the year is out. It's an ambitious goal considering that some top GOP donors have fretted over Steele's stewardship of committee resources.
But Steele said the 2008 election had left the RNC in a ruinous state and forced him to reconsider how the party does business.
"Where we had been a big old elephant plodding the states, demanding and dictating to the states, requiring the states to do the most unthinkable things in politics that really had nothing to do with winning and electing Republicans," Steele claimed, an apparent criticism of past chairmen.
"We had to change all of that, we had to move away from a top down approach," he added. "And we had to focus on becoming more nimble."
Steele said his efforts have been validated by GOP wins in the New Jersey and Virginia governor's races and the Massachusetts Senate special election.
He also drew a standing ovation from the committee – many of whom also donned the red baseball caps - when he announced a 117-city "Fire Pelosi!" bus tour for this fall.
"Get on the bus! Get on the bus!" Steele implored, promising to take the party's message "to the streets" ahead of the midterm elections.
In response, the Democratic National Committee, which has seized on Steele's numerous gaffes over the last year and a half, jokingly announced a bus tour of their own.
"We also are doing a bus tour this fall - it's called the Don't Fire Michael Steele Bus Tour," quipped DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse.