(CNN) - A top Republican's comparison of President Barack Obama to the captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia this weekend ran aground Monday with the White House as it was sharply denounced by Press Secretary Jay Carney.
"If you are so desperate for attention that you make an analogy that Michael Steele deems inappropriate, you know you have probably gone too far," Carney said in the White House press briefing.
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Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus made the comment Sunday morning on CBS's "Face the Nation" in response to a question about in-fighting during the Republican primary.
"In a few months, this is all going to be ancient history and we're going to talk about our own little Captain Schettino, which is President Obama who's abandoning the ship here in the United States and is more interested in campaigning than doing his job as president," Priebus said.
The remarks quickly sparked controversy and prompted former RNC chairman Michael Steele to speak out against the current chairman's statement.
"I think it's an unfortunate analogy," Steele said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday. "I mean, people died in that situation."
The ship collided with rocks in shallow waters off an island on Italy's Tuscan coast on January 13.
Seventeen people are confirmed dead and 15 people remain missing while the captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest and faces possible criminal charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.
– CNN's Gabriella Schwarz contributed to this report.
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Wow! Something sensible, non-inflammatory and even - dare I say it? - moderate from Michael Steele? The time away from politics must be agreeing with him. He sounds like the guy I once thought would be an effective RNC chairman.
I don't think the Obama-Schettino comparison is fair:
– Schettino is a highly trained and experienced professional who should have known what he was doing; Obama is not.
– Schettino's ineptitude killed a couple dozen tourists; Obama's actions (and inactions) only killed the economic recovery.
– Schettino only ran for a day; Obama is running every day.
This is just more political bs-talk that steps way too far across the boundaries of good taste. Look at some of what's been happening in the primaries too. This is a sad testament to the fact that much of our country's population is ignorant enough to believe the hyperbole that spews forth from our politicians' mouths – from both sides. This is not a left or right thing. This has become a US thing and it saddens me. Shame on Priebus, yes, but shame on everyone for listening to it and becoming a nation of lemmings.
Reince Priebus is just warming up for the upcoming season of the stupid. The more he lowers the bar for what passes as public discourse, the better the chances, he probably believes, he can hang onto the "base" . . .
Hmmm... I actually thought it was a dead on comparison!
The far right of this country have brought a new low to the word ugly. And there are folks who actually want these idiots to run this country. Obama can teach these ugly folks what the meaning of the word class is.
Didn't top democrats call Bush Hitler?
Perhaps you libs will get your way and get some "Hate speech" laws where people can be jailed for talk like this.
This is a typical statement of the new republican party, dominated by fanatical neo-cons. It is amazing how they will say anything to rally their base of extremists, with no regard to the feelings of the families that lost loved ones on that ship. I am amazed at the number of radio stations across the country that air nothing but hate-radio programs, styled after the Fox News TV channel distortion of facts.
I might not have agreed with Michael Steele, but I respected him. Priebus is the little punk kid you wanted to beat up in grammar and high school. That was completely disrespectul. But hey, everyone feels they are equal to every one else...in all aspects. I guess that allowed an Arizona governor to put her finger in the President's face.
Reince Preibus,Hmmm with a name like that you would think he is from San Francisco instead of a mid western state of Wisconsin. I guess the GOP got snookered with him. Looks like Michael Steele pulled a good joke on his OLD constiuancy.
@bgun2,If there is an organization that is the exact opposite of Mensa they are probably looking to sign you up. If there isn't then you and Hank could be founding members. One of your first rules should be to always shun facts and explanations.
I hope he's not a sarah palin fan.. she really did "jump ship" from her job as gov. of Alaska, in case you forgot
If anyone ran the ship onto the rocks it was the Bushman. He threw the charts away, sped up the boat and took his buddies for a joyride ("Regulations? We don't need no stinking regulations."). After the bottom was torn out and the ship was sinking, GW was thrown off the boat and Obama came in to get it back to shore and safety. We didn't quite make it.
Like school in the summer...no class
The comments of Prebo were childish and disrespectful!!!!
Those who keep saying that the President has done anything – -really? I think you are confused. It is really Congress who has done nothing except pass bills about abortion.
Actually, the analogy was a good one. Obama is an incompetent clutz who truly is steering the American Ship of State onto the rocks.
@Jake: "how low will Republicans stoop?"
As low as it takes to find Democrats?
Onecandidate sneaks his tax cuts into Swiss bank accounts,another sneaks around on all his wives,one is plain crazy,and Ron Paul doesn't have a chance.Are these Republicans serious when they say they have the answer to Americas problems.They look like part of the problem not the solution.
Typical low class GOP behavior. President Obama has brought our country from losing hundreds of thousands of jobs per month to gaining jobs. The GOP is upset that it caused this mess (many of those criticizing President Obama voted for Bush's failed policies) and President Obama has managed to do some clean-up in spite of their constant obstruction. The sooner middle class America figures out that the GOP will never do anything for them, the better. Straight Democratic ticket 2012
Tax the rich"!
The comments were childish and disgusting!!!! The RNC Chairperson will be looking for a new job after November 2012.
Those who think or keep saying things are going bad – – really? Where? Wall Street, Banks and large corporations are sititng on trillions of dollars. Stock market is on the rise... the economy is getting better!!! Those who claim to be so patrotic talk it down every time you talk!!!!
If Obama is the captain of the Costa Concordia then Bush was the captain of the Titantic.
LOL. You silly republicans got rid of Steele for this clown? LOL. Thanks Reince. Haha. Even your name is .....un-American. Keep running your suck and showing Americans what a nuttcase you and the republican are this time around. The President needs you to turn more people away from the GOP.
Romney shoul drop out of the race.
Gingrich and Romney are both no good.