February 19th, 2009
02:16 PM ET
14 years ago

RNC chair plans 'off the hook' campaign, tells critics to ‘stuff it’

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/19/art.steele.gi.jpg caption="Steele plans an agressive PR push for his party."](CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party is going to launch an "off the hook" public relations campaign that will update the GOP’s image by translating it to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."

The new GOP leader told the Washington Times that the party’s defeat in states like North Carolina and Virginia made it clear they needed a new approach.

“We need messengers to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, a cross section...” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

He added, jokingly, that “we need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.”

Steele described the new multi-platform PR offensive as “avant-garde, technically. It will come to [the] table with things that will surprise everyone - off the hook.” Asked whether that meant cutting-edge tactics, Steele demurred. “I don't do 'cutting-edge,’” he said. “That's what Democrats are doing. We're going beyond cutting-edge.”

Steele, who began a massive personnel overhaul at the RNC shortly after his election, said he has started meeting weekly with congressional Republicans. He said he’ll be gathering input from House and Senate leaders, not giving instructions - but criticized national Republican leadership’s focus on party unity as a top priority, saying the failure to devote itself instead to developing fresh faces had cost the GOP.

“We missed the mark in the past, which is why we are in the crapper now,” he said. “We had the White House, the Senate and the House and were not building a farm team over the last years. We could have been ahead of Democrats and their 50-state strategy.”

Steele dismissed the assessments of some Republicans that he needs a deputy to handle areas like logistics, fundraising and candidate recruitment. “I can run this organization just fine,” he said. “There will be no deputy chairman, period. ...People who said I can't make the trains run on time never gave a reason. I say to them, 'Stuff it.'

“I am not afraid of being held accountable for my leadership,” he said. “The idea I am somehow going to handicap myself before I begin is nuts. I am not going to buy into this mind-set among a few people who probably have never run anything but their mouths.”

Steele defeated a crowded field last month, including sitting RNC chairman Mike Duncan, to claim the party’s top spot.

Filed under: Michael Steele • RNC
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. Agnes

    There is an air of desperation to his comments.

    February 19, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Mike

    Hey people! Yes all you bashers who are doing nothing but noting the exact reasons the Republicans lost the last two elections. Mr. Steele is talking about doing exactly the opposite of what the Republicans WERE doing. ARE YOU NOT LISTENING?
    He will bring fresh ideas and faces to this party and move it in a direction that is no where near the far right. I believe this man will certainly improve the Republican party by taking it out of the hands of the Rush Limbaugh followers and others who would otherwise undermine the basic principle's of the party.
    The Republicans need to actually remember what their core beliefs are, which is fiscal conservatism, less government involvement into peoples lives, protecting our country, helping our friends and neighbors in need, etc.
    We got away from this and it hurt us badly. Bush was certainly no PURE Republican. He strayed big time and the sheep followed. Now they are gone.
    It is time for those of you who would call Mr. Steele a "token" to take your hypocritical partisan politics and bury it in the back yard. You are following the same path to doom that the Republicans did a few short years ago. If you think your partisan banter is going to help your party then you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. One side saying how Repubs partisan politics cost them at the polls and the other side of your mouth spewing the same vile garbage that you seem to abhor.
    Look in the mirror next time you want to yell at someone about what is wrong with our country and the partisan bickering that is going on.

    February 19, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. obama-mama

    Wooooooooooooooooooo I can't stop laughing.....

    February 19, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Gina in Racine Wi

    Oh....I am sure that this will NOT appeal to the far right lunatic fringe (the Savage and Hannity and Rush listeners).

    In trying to cater to the people who dispise the Republican Party.....they are going to lose their rich, white, old base.....

    and in the end,.....they will just lose.

    February 19, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. Iguana Victim

    Liberal cry-babies. Former Hillary supporter, are you high? Did you actually read the story before posting?

    February 19, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. GOP = Geriatric Obstructionist Pityparty

    You repukes obviously all have a job NOW, but I hope you lose it and lose it soon! Then, in this downward spiraling economy you will not find a job in the 26 weeks that you have unemployment. So, come back and blog about how your now loosing everything because you now have NO income coming in. Then when your 12 year old comes down with a violent illness, I hope you enjoy the wait and having to watch you child experience pain while waiting in some charity emergency room or your "dumped" on the charity hospital because you have no insurance, and you thought using Medicaid for the unemployed was "welfare". Then once you have lost your house and you have crammed all your kids into a relatives home or a 1 one bedroom apartment and you can then qualify for food stamps, let us know if that help during the time you were struggling to hold onto your house would have helpful.

    All of us "welfare advocates" will be waiting to hear if your views about "welfare" has changed or remained the same!

    February 19, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Shocked and Amazed

    Really, Really Mr. Steele? You think the answer is the messenger and not the message? Really, wow GOP why didn't you just hire Shaft for RNC Chairman? I hear he's a very bad...

    February 19, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Wow, as a GOP critic I couldn't be more happy

    the thug approach to politics, I want to see GOP go down in flames

    February 19, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Ohio Man

    @ Obama Victim

    hey how you doing .. glad to see you just got out of jail or just came back to the USA, but just to give u an update on whats been happening the last 8 years, well it has been, well never mind you wouldn't understand .. and i dont have any crayon to draw u pictures of what i mean ..

    February 19, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. Al, NY NY

    Yeah, like the old folks that populate 80% of the GOP are gonna be "down wit it." Here's a sample..."Oh Eunice, did you see that new commercial that the Republicans are running? It has some of those horrible anti-american unclean 'rap' artists in it. Why can't they use that nice wholesome Toby Keith? I hate those rappers. They are evil.."

    February 19, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Cathy

    He must think he is Kanye West....

    February 19, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Lolly, CO

    off the hook?
    including one-armed midgets?

    Clearly he's the ONE

    February 19, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. katiec

    Again, proof that the republicans have no idea what is going on.
    They are trying to destroy the survival of us and our country and
    say the solution is to become more Hip Hop??
    They are on the road to self destruction.

    February 19, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Poochie the Dog

    This article is hilarious! They've got to be kidding. He wants to take the party past 'cutting edge'? That means he is going to take them over the edge? And the fact that they responded to a black Democrat president with a black GOP chairman who apparently is trying to be 'more black' than Obama is pathetic and 100% transparent.

    "GOP is off da hook yo!" I applaud this tactic like a one arm midget.

    February 19, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. Pat, CA

    to Mari February 19th, 2009 11:07 am ET

    YOU can "stuff it", too, Mari ! It's YOU and your Liberal cronies on these blogs who spew HATE, IGNORANCE, and DIVISIVENESS!

    Go, Steele !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. Chris, Albany, NY

    "Off the hook"? Yo man, listen. You're not under 30, I'm sure you don't come from "the streets"(Obviously, your a republican) and your your parties chariman. What kinda talk is this, it sounds SO FAKE! You don't know anything about hip-hop and what's it's about so just stop trying to act cool, aight man! Pz

    February 19, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  17. CA Indie for Obama

    The repubs not only need a new approach, but a new platform that does not bet the farm on tax cuts for the wealthy as a cure-all.

    February 19, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. Jeorge Taylor

    "one-armed midgets." You simply do not get it.

    February 19, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. Laverne

    This guy does not get it and to think the GOP thought that the answers to their parties problems is make an African American the head of their department. Don't get me wrong, I think Michael Steele is as qualified as any white guy in the GOP, I just think the reasoning was all wrong and it also will come back to bite them in the butt! It won't be long before the GOP turns on Michael Steele and blame him for the parties problems. The far right won't cooperate and he will soon find that ou! Good luck Mr. Steele, but I think I will stay with President Obama and he is much better looking!

    February 19, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. Michael (Nashville, TN)

    Dear Mr. Steele,

    Your party lost because you didn't offer any new ideas on how to move the country forward. All you offered was fear, hatred, division, and failed economic ideas from the 1980's. The country has changed and your party hasn't. We simply do not want to go back to a time before Roe v Wade, Brown v Board of Education, and Loving v Virginia.

    February 19, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. scott p

    The Republicans and their practices have ruined the once great Usa. Bush is the Republicans and the Republicans are Bush. It doesn't matter who the Republicans get, even their own token Obama, they are totally responsible for everything wrong in america. The Republicans lost the election in 2008 and it's time to reverse 29 years of Reagan inspired ruin. Republican, the new dirty word!

    February 19, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. Indiana Voter

    I can't wait to see what you racist liberal democrats are saying a year from now about Obama, you messiah. So far, the only "leadership" he has shown is that he knows how to spend money, and not his money either.

    February 19, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  23. from NH

    For most of my adult life I was a registered Republican but then reality set in. I am now an Independent.

    If a Republican is running for office with realistic ideas and the Democrat running for the same office is a staunch unrealistic individual then the Republican will get my vote.

    Why do budgets go up? Take a family of 4 that buys a pound of hamburg today for $4.00 and makes it go so that each has their own share. Now the family is increased to 6 individuals. Is that same pound of hamburg going to go as far? A choice has to be made–smaller hamburgers or more pounds that are going to cost money. To just arbitrarily and firmly say a pound is all they need is not necessarily the correct answer. Well not if you have 4 teenagers out of the 6 eating. Our legislators must be realistic and not keep their heads in the sand. This is the Republican party-they keep their ideas firmly in the sand and do not look to the future.

    February 19, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. Matt, CT

    Haha, reminds me of Teresa Heinz-Kerry's lovely "Shove it" comment (which was a perfect statement to a reporter!)

    February 19, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. Ed in Arizona

    They are "in the crapper now" because, well, if the shoe fits...

    February 19, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10