August 24th, 2010
04:02 PM ET
4 years ago

Steele defends immigration comments

RNC Chairman Michael Steele on Tuesday defended his recent interview with Univision, in which the top Republican said Arizona's controversial immigration law is not a ‘reflection’ of the Republican Party.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele on Tuesday defended his recent interview with Univision, in which the top Republican said Arizona's controversial immigration law is not a ‘reflection’ of the Republican Party.

(CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele tells CNN he is standing by his recent interview with the Spanish-language network Univision, in which the top Republican said Arizona's controversial immigration law is not a "reflection" of the entire party.

"We support the Republican governor of Arizona in her efforts, but we also recognize that this is a transcendent issue and that for different parts of the country they look at it and approach it differently and Republican candidates and the Republican leadership in those states and those communities have to be able to respond to the needs at that time," Steele told CNN's Soledad O'Brien as part of her series "In America: See How They Run."

Steele, the top Republican charged with adding House and Senate seats to the GOP column this November, also said the divisiveness of the immigration issue shares similarities with that of abortion.

"We have pro-choice Republicans, we have pro-life Republicans, so I can't say that one of them is a reflection of the entire party," he said. "The same is true on this question on Arizona. Some people see that law one way, some people see that law another way. It depends on where you live and what your background is."

Steele has previously taken heat for saying abortion is an "individual choice" and that the matter should be left up to the states to decide.

Portions of the interview will air Tuesday on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

The controversial measure, signed into law last April by Gov. Jan Brewer, requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect that they're in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.

In late July, a federal court judge temporarily blocked the portion that prevents police from questioning people about their immigration status in response to a motion filed by the Justice Department.

A host of national Republican's have defended the law's implementation and sharply criticized President Obama's Justice Department for intervening with a state's enforcement decision.

Asked about his own position on the measure, Steele said his job as chairman of the party is to "support my Republican governors wherever they are and whatever they are doing."

"They may institute [the law] in Arizona, they may institute a different version of it somewhere else and …I cannot come in and tell them, 'Oh well gee that's not popular or that's not what the rest of the party thinks or feels,'" he said.


Filed under: Immigration • issues • Michael Steele
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. cardog

    Like most positions of the Republican Party and it's leaders, they pretty much agree with everything the wing nuts of their conservative base believes and says, but will never take a public stand on their support.

    This is the same Republican party which includes this dunce Richard Steele that has never stood up and called their friends in the Tea Party what they are. They would rather state that they as well as the Tea party are "Patriots"???
    I could have a higher level of respect for Mr. Steele and that would be coming out of a 6 foot hole to reach the word "higher", if he along with others would simply tell the truth for a change.

    August 24, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Basically he's saying that republicans want to have it both ways. NEWSFLASH Mr. Steele!! Republicans are the one's who are talking about changing the 14th Amendmant.

    August 24, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. HappyinVA

    I dislike Steele, but I agree with him – not all folks in a political party follow the same thought process to the very last detail. You can belong to a party and have differing points of views on some issues.... why is this news?

    August 24, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. GL

    He is in the wrong party if every time you open your mouth you have to back track. The party of hate and racist is not the party for Steele. He continue to express different views then his party which should tell me something.

    August 24, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. GL

    Steele has previously taken heat for saying abortion is an "individual choice" and that the matter should be left up to the states to decide.

    and he is right and is right about this one as well, but he is still a big clown.

    August 24, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. GL

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele tells CNN he is standing by his recent interview with the Spanish-language network Univision, in which the top Republican said Arizona's controversial immigration law is not a "reflection" of the entire party.

    I guest since he know that he will not get re-election and is starting to speak his mind. Good for him!

    August 24, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Thomas Coe

    STOP THE HATE –REME MBER TO VOTE IN NOVEMBER

    Commit now to vote in the November elections. A segment of our country has gone on an unprecedented campaign to turn back the clock. They want to take the country back to a time when only one group of Americans could enjoy all of the country's benefits. They hate blacks, latinos, gays and lesbians, muslims, and even the unemployed. If you are perceived as being different, you are to be hated. They're playing the hate card and they're dealing it from the bottom of the deck. If we do not vote, they are rewarded for their campaign of hatred. I have problems with this president and his administration, but this election is not about this president. This is an election for the soul of our nation. A country where one American hates the next American is not a recipe for the long term survival of the country. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE. TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO VOTE. BLOG, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, EMAIL EVERYONE YOU KNOW. HELP START THE MOVEMENT NOW. STOP THE HATE!!!!

    August 24, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    That's right Mushmouth, walk it back. Idiot.

    "We have pro-choice Republicans, we have pro-life Republicans, so I can't say that one of them is a reflection of the entire party,"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. What else can be said? See ya, Mushmouth...wouldn't wanna be ya.

    August 24, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  9. Ghosts of Bush era double speak

    Congradulations Mr. Steele

    As CNN and other news organization amp up on the mid-terms with sensational journalistic flare, one day noting how Obama's actions have hurt democratic chances, and the next day, presenting their version of 'balanced' journalism NOT representative of what the american public feels but representative of what now a days increases the 'hits' on their collective website...along comes this Back to tFuture bombastic remarks from Sir Steele.

    Flashes of 'no new taxes' from daddy Bush and the mis-directional and bogus reasons for a 2 front war, when one front solution would have had our troops home already, now almost 10 Vietnam equivalent years later...were dancing around in my newly independent voters mind.

    thank you Mr. Steele for reminding me of the past unethical conduct and confrontational actions of Sir Newt Gingrich and his bogus and broken 'contract with america!..that one year held up funding having congress cause 4 continuing resolutions.

    One statement from you in the press cancels out all those internet hits received for the past 2 weeks on Obama's words, vacation, golf game...

    One question I have for Mr. Steele – when is the new Republican party ever going to be organized without raising the past? i.e. Regan's bi-partisn success's? – thought almost 3 decades and a new century later, it would have occurred by now..oh well..won't hold my breath any longer!

    August 24, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. the real ib

    This one of those guys that need to go bye bye along with congress people from both parties.

    August 24, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    With up to 22 states ready to take some legislative action on the issue, it should be clear that "action" is what people are looking for......not passing the buck.

    August 24, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Alex

    Way to try and get back some latino votes. Too bad the repubs racism is too obvious...

    August 24, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. bill

    repubs please keep steel.he and moose hunter are the gifts that keep on giving. WHAT A LOOSER

    August 24, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Brennan

    Sorry, the windows and doors to this tent were closed a long time ago.

    August 24, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Of course it is! Idf ot's not a reflection that's only because most of thier member would rather shoot them than deport them.

    August 24, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. Duck Fallas

    What would happen if a gay Muslim Mexican had an abortion? Would the universe explode?

    Probably better odds that a black guy would lead the RNC. (Steele doesn't count)

    August 24, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. LINDA

    He is just lying trying to get people back into his grace-so I donot believe anything the republican party or any lying republican says-donot be fooled by this man or party, for they are just using lies to try and boost up their party-to little to late,for that since they are a party of "NO" just how do we take that just like they brought it to us-haters they are and just lying all in their mouth,any words come out is a lie,no I have no respect for that party at all,so go away liers. This party will not change at all always trying to use the american people to pay their taxes and etc we have had enough of you republicans for 8 long misereable yrs,and will not go back and repeat your misery-for that is your plan to get the house or etc and we will be really doomed for real it these lying people get back in office-we ain't seen nothing yet for if they succeed we WILL BE FOR REAL WORST OFF-are in HELL, believe that for a fact..

    August 24, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. sakimasg2g

    I never thought that I would agree with in the least with that Republican Michael Steele.
    It is easy to judge when it is not happening in your area.
    It is easy to judge when there are not gangs like MS 13 E Salvador trained soldiers in your area.
    It is easy to judge when the instigation of racism is not in your area.
    It is easy to judge when you do not realize that the American Culture has been and is being twisted and bent to suit others.
    It is easy to judge when you classify the civil rights of citizens ( our In alien right) as the same as a alien right enhancing the concept of human rights.

    August 24, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. me

    "We support the Republican governor of Arizona in her efforts, but we also recognize that this is a transcendent issue and that for different parts of the country they look at it and approach it differently and Republican candidates and the Republican leadership in those states and those communities have to be able to respond to the needs at that time"

    This sounds like an argument for letting just the federal gov't be the ones in control of foreign border issues rather than each state having their own set of laws. Oh,wait, that is the current law. Gee, what was Governor Brewer thinking?

    August 24, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Steele's job is to raise money but he continues to distance the Republicans from cash cows and the proof is in the Democrats campaign funding and not in theirs.

    August 24, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Dano

    No Michael you're wrong. There's only one message allowed to be expressed by the GOP – whatever Rush says! No opposing view points, no deviation from the party line, no independent thought, just keep repeating the lies over and over until people start to believe it.

    August 24, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. Frasier6670

    Why don't any of these people bring the fact up that the states and the taxpayers can't afford this burden any longer. Our states are going bankrupt because of all these illegals who not only invade our country, but invade the hospitals and school systems and the taxpayer has to pay for it, because according to the Supreme Court it's unconstitutional not to. Why don't any of these people bring that up? Taxpayers SHOULD NOT AND CANNOT pay for these people anymore.

    August 24, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  23. A Voting Latina

    This is what we call Double Speak ....

    Either you support the rights of Latino men and women to come to America or you don't and the Republicans DON'T.

    All the weasel words about legal immigration, protecting the border,etc., go without saying. Latino Americans are law abiding, patriotic people.

    If you really want to put the brakes on illegal immigration, start locking up the white Americans that employee the undocumented workers. Kill the demand .... then the supply will stop. Aren't all of you GOPer's suppose to be expert capitalists?? Don't you know this simple economic rule?

    You can not support that witch of a Governor in Arizona AND also be pro-Hispanic.

    August 24, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Mr. Steele said AZ's Immigration law is not a "reflection of the entire party"????????? What????? Is he kidding? Why not be honest, Mr. Steele? You, Republicans can't have it both ways? In case you have not noticed the majority of GOPers love the AZ law! In fact, many Conservatives are calling for undocumented immigrants to be rounded up and deported!

    What will the GOP say when SB 1070 ends up at the Supreme Court and is ruled unconstitutional?

    Who will vote for the Republicans, Mr. Steele, when you folks have offended and alienated: Latinos, Blacks, Gays, Women & Muslims?!

    August 24, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  25. David Scott

    What a bunch of lying, bigoted racist the whole rip-publican party is.

    August 24, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |