November 19th, 2010
02:15 PM ET
4 years ago

Steele defends record: 'Enormous success'

(CNN) – Michael Steele is defending his record at the helm of the Republican National Committee, sending a memo to committee members Friday describing the past cycle as an "overwhelming success."

The five-page memo comes amidst heavy criticism from several high profile Republicans that the RNC's fundraising and get-out-the-vote prowess has floundered under Steele's leadership and declarations from some within the party that the chairman does not deserve a second term.

"I am happy to report that our efforts were an overwhelming success: because of the surge in grass roots support for the GOP, over 44 million voters turned out to cast ballots for Republican candidates in 2010," Steele writes in the letter. "That number is, by a huge margin, the highest midterm turnout for any party in any midterm election in U.S. history."

The memo essentially constitutes a direct response to that written earlier this week by ex-RNC finance director Gentry Collins, who upon resigning his post declared that the committee's fundraising and organizational efforts had far underperformed during Steele's tenure.

Read Steele's letter [PDF]

"Sadly, if left on its current path, the RNC will not be a productive force in the 2012 campaign to deny President Obama a second term, retain our House majority, and elect a Senate majority," Collins wrote in his letter, which was also sent to committee members.

Collins, an Iowa campaign veteran, wrote that the committee "allowed its major donor base to wither" and collected just $170 million this cycle compared to $243 million during the 2006 midterm cycle.

Much of the money, he wrote, came from small donations online instead of personal solicitations from the chairman.

But Steele puts a completely different spin on the fundraising numbers, saying the committee's cash haul last cycle "smashed the record for the most money collected in a midterm cycle by any political committee whose party did not control Congress."

Steele also maintains the committee has gained close to 700,000 new donors in the last two years and calls the committee's turnout operation "the most successful in history."

But that statement flies directly in the face of contentions from some Republicans, including Republican Governors' Association Chairman Haley Barbour, who blamed the RNC for a lack luster voter turnout operation that caused the other party committees to scramble in the final days before Election Day.

Collins too, in his resignation letter, said the RNC's underfunded get-out-the-vote effort this year was directly responsible for some Republican losses that were otherwise winnable.

Meanwhile, CNN's Jessica Yellin reported earlier this week that at the annual RGA gathering earlier this week, Barbour asked the 26 Republican governors and governors-elect whether they would be comfortable asking RNC committee members in their states to consider a change in RNC leadership next year. Eighty percent of the governors raised their hand. That was according to a Republican staffer who attended the meeting and asked to remain anonymous while speaking about the current RNC chair.

Steele has not publicly stated whether he will seek a second term, but is privately taking steps to do so including reaching out to trusted advisors to discuss his campaign team and strategy.

Should he run he will face at least a challenge from Michigan Republican Saul Anuzis, currently an RNC national committeeman who is among those who ran against Steele for the post in 2009.

The election for the chairmanship comes at the end of January.

– CNN's Peter Hamby and Mark Preston contributed to this report


Filed under: Michael Steele • RNC
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. S. In California

    It's back to the fields for you. You have been in the house for too long. It serves you right. Without Pres. Obama EVERYONE knows there would be absolutely NO need for you. Bye, bye, boy.

    November 19, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. chris

    Uh, Mike you don't get it, your token has expired!!! The RNC has figured out they can use someone that looks like the majority in that Party and slam on the President with no issuse these days!! Now GSD!!! GO SIT DOWN!!!!

    November 19, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    Steele's real problem is that he is gaffe-prone. I think people are deathly afraid of him making more gaffes and causing massive distraction from the task at hand. Leaving him in the position will be a risky proposition.

    November 19, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. PAUL W!

    Yeah, by encouraging the GOP in congress to stonewall anything supported by the Obama Administration, even those things written and endorsed by GOP Representatives and Senators, you've helped keep 9 million Americans unemployed and prolonged the economic recovery by at least 2 years. Nice work Dumbass, you're a real American Hero!

    November 19, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Oregon Calling

    HaHaHaHaHa........... I really needed a laugh!

    Peace :-)

    November 19, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. craig

    I cannot stand Steele but I must side with him on this. Whatever it means to be party chairman and whatever it means when it comes to elecetions He has been a success. I wonder why they would want dump him? hmmm!

    November 19, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. Darth Vadik, CA

    Hey Steele, doesn't matter what your record is with Republicans, what matters is the color of your skin, it it is dark, then according to Republicans that is bad...

    ...I hope you feel good about yourself, letting the Republicans use you, an now you will get everything you deserve for helping them, great going ;)

    November 19, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Hate to keep beating a dead horse on this, but Michael you were chosen to head the RNC in a quid pro quo style of managing by the GOP as a Black Man was in the White House. Do you really think the party of Big, Angry, White Men would choose a Black Man to head their blessed RNC if McCain had won? Rrrrrrrrright!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 19, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Sorry Michael, we don't need you anymore we've become diversified with 2 Hispanics and 1 American Indian because it was never about money but we can use that as an excuse to say "see ya Michael". P.S. And Michael never use that word "So, I'm head of the RNC" because you never were. Just thought you'd like to know, maybe that'll make you feel better.

    November 19, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. EddyL

    What an idiot! Typical GOP... can never take responsibility for anything...

    November 19, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. John

    Hey Steele we try to tell you but you wouldn't listen, well I hope you feel good about yourself now.

    November 19, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. Independent In Albany

    Republicans and Democrats have nearly identical public approval ratings. I would hardly call that a success for either side.

    November 19, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. T'sah from Virginia

    Get off of the cloud and get back in the RAIN!!! You are not getting credit for what you believe was a success!!! Just like your counterparts – the RepubliCAN'Ts – they feel they were successful, and maybe they were – and they are having INTERNAL riffs and fights among themselves – and their BIGGEST problem is Sarah Palin running in 2012!!!

    So Steele, don't feel bad – RESIGN and then go ROGUE!! You'll make some money doing so? But then again, your color is different and we really DON'T know the names of your children – I am sure NONE of them DANCE – I am sure NONE of them are "pregnant" (if you have teens)... So, take it with a grain of SALT and make like a TEA LEAVE and LEAVE!!!

    Let's stick with our current leader, President Obama, as he MOVES AMERICA FORWARD!!

    November 19, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. Squiggs

    Hey Steele, Obama isn't the only black man the Republicans are out to get. Now that they have the house they don't need their number one Boy to counteract Obama. The biggest election for the Republicans in history and they still want to get rid of the black guy in charge of the party. Steele is a fool who didn't realize that the republicans might invite him to play a round of golf but he's not going to get into the 19 hole for a drink. So long sucker I hope with psychologocal help you will realize that was no photo negative staring back at youin the mirror. That was your real color. Ask any of your republican masters.

    November 19, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You're geting a taste of your Party's trademaked Spin Medicine.
    They can spin anything to "make" their case. If you gave them thousands of little donors, they will say they wanted a few big donors. If you raised 40 million, they'll say that their goal was 60 million.

    Moral of the story here is, Mikey, that the GOP will only havel with a Black man in a prominent position if he lends himself to be of use to them. They have no use for you so you gotta go Mikey.

    Now with Barack Obama....well that's a whole 'nother story. They can't control him, and he won't let himself be used by them, unlike you.
    C ya Mike!

    November 19, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. Mr. Lemming

    Michael Steele is another ignoramous used by the Republicans now thrown in the recycle bin. No better for you. PUPPET! The president is doing a good job. Most of the American electorate is stupid. Propaganda is easier to follow because people
    are too lazy to think for themselves. Now look at all of the middle class items that are threatened by the Republicans like
    social security, medicare, unemployment benefits etc. Not realizing it will probably affect them also. Voters would rather believe the lie that President Obama is a muslim rather than their benefits will be cut and they no longer can afford to put food on the table. Or that health care is "socialist" when corporate interests and politicians use the same type of coverage.
    That's the way voters in this country have always been duped. Tell them that the boogie man is coming. The republicans
    know this and have used it to perfection for years.
    Oh well, enjoy your tea. I will be in my bunker when Americans finally realize the tyranny of the Fascist Republican Party!
    (Oh, by the way, they just turned down the unemployment extensions just in time for Christmas) Suckers!!!!

    November 19, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. lforlegend

    Hey Steeley, they don't want you around anymore, you are used goods, they milked you for all they could get. Move on. Go write a book or two and tell it all. If W can do it you can too. Big question, who are you going to turn to now?

    November 19, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Doesn't he look like he's saying: "Bbut, bbut I did everything you asked me to do. Come on fellas. Don't throw me out. Come onnnn!".

    November 19, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. Jack

    Steele, how many of those unemployed voters who voted for your party this midterm whose unemployment benefits were just stopped just in time for Christmas, will be invited over to the Steele residence for turkey and tea?

    November 19, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. John J, IN

    oh PLEASE. You defended your abysmal fundraising ability by comparing this year sy saying we raised more money than we did in 1994?!?!? Are you kidding me? You are a bumbling idiot, and exactly the reason people like me contributed directly to candidates this year, and not the RNC. We could have been competitive in 5 more senate seats and 10 more houses seats if we had the funds. You are a clown.

    November 19, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Dreamsmith

    Unfortunately, Mr. Steele, you are getting a real dose of reality. You were only hired as leader of the in RNC cause the Republican felt they needed a token to counter the Obama effect, like "Look, see! We got a black guy too!". Now that they think that they can smell Obamas blood in the water, you have outlived your usefulness. I mean, the strip clubs and all the other gaffes didnt help, but we all so your potential to be expendable, especially since it didnt take Rush Limbaugh long to publicly neutured you. Just bow out gracefully, your nose is brown enough. Try to keep some small semblance of your manhood in tact.

    November 19, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |