March 2nd, 2009
01:23 PM ET
14 years ago

GOP chairman says he leads party, not Rush Limbaugh

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Steele says he is the leader of the GOP."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is taking issue with the notion that Rush Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the GOP, calling the conservative radio talk show host an entertainer whose comments can be ugly.

Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview with CNN that he, rather than Limbaugh, is "the de facto leader of the Republican Party."

And Steele described Limbaugh as a performer.

"Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment," Steele said. "Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly."

Last month, Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, was elected chair of the RNC. He is the first African-American to lead the Republican Party. At the time of his election, Steele said that "Rush will say what Rush has to say; we'll do what we have to do."

Steele made his latest comments regarding Limbaugh on CNN's "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," which aired this weekend. The Steele interview was taped before Limbaugh's appearance before the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual meeting of conservatives from across the nation.

Limbaugh brought a cheering crowd to its feet several times as he called on fellow conservatives to take back the country.

He used his self-described "first national address," which ran more than an hour longer than his allotted 20 minutes, to accuse President Barack Obama of inspiring fear in Americans in order to push a liberal agenda of "big government."

Limbaugh also backed up comments he made earlier this year in which he said he hoped Obama fails.

"What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and re-form this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation?"

But a top Republican in Congress disagreed.

"I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now," House Republican Whip Eric Cantor said on ABC's "This Week." "We have such challenges. What we need to do is we need to put forth solutions to the problems that real families are facing today."

RNC spokesman Alex Conant on Monday did not directly address Steele's comments about Limbaugh but pointed out the back and forth between the White House and the conservative radio host.

"Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats know they lose an argument with the Republican Party on substance so they are building straw men to attack and distract," he said. "The feud between radio host Rush and Rahm makes great political theater, but it is a sideshow to the important work going on in Washington.

"RNC Chairman Michael Steele and elected Republicans are focused on fighting for reform and winning elections. The Democrats' problem is that the American people are growing skeptical of the massive government spending being pushed by congressional leaders like [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi," Conant said.

A spokesman for Limbaugh said the radio host did not have an immediate response, but added he would likely address Steele's comments Monday on his nationally syndicated radio program.

Filed under: Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (1,100 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Ugly?! How about giving AIG another 30Billion – now thats ugly! Yes the stock markets are seeing companies continue to fail, and yet this new administration continues to throw money at them month after month – it's pathetic! I don't agree with everything Rush says, however expecting people to actually be accountable is something that has left the Obama team and needs to return.

    March 2, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. T. Mckinley

    I think it's time for Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, and everyone who agrees with their ideology, to leave the U.S.A. and go find another country to live in.

    May I recommend Honduras. My wife is from there. I've been to Honduras many times. It's exactly the type of country that Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, O'Reilly, and Beck want.

    No "socialism." No welfare. No government handouts. Everyone's on their own. Survival of the fittest. Sink or swim. Rugged individualism. It's great!

    One word of advice: if you do have money, you had better hire a lot of well trained and well armed bodyguards. The poverty is so bad there, that you could get a knife stuck in you if someone just happens to want your wrist watch.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. TC

    Slow news day or what? Switch back to the Obama puppy watch, CNN.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Indebted for life

    His remarks may be ugly and incindiary, but they are far closer to the truth than the bs we have coming out of our democrat friends in Washington! How many billions more of debt and how much more
    doctoring of the constitution, before people wake up to reality??

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. MDM-Real VA

    What.....Please Steele you are so not the one!
    You were hand picked in hopes of the republicans trying to find their own Barack Obama.....but they have all failed and ran for hiding... just try to find Bobby

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. Jim

    Steele leads the party. Rush leads their constituants.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. Bruce

    Typical response from "had it" and it's grown all too old.

    Michael Steele is a success and worked to become one. How about we celebrate and promote the accomplishments of people instead of making inferences to racism because they don't share the same philosophy and ideas to solve common issues.

    It would be nice to see the ideology of the left hold up folks like Michael Steele, Condi Rice, Clarance Thomas, Colin Powell, and numerous others as examples of what you can accomplish and tell folks you can make it and you can succeed even when you don't share the same philsophies. Barak Obama's accomplishments tell a great story of what an individual can accomplish in this country just as Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas, Powell etc.

    It's just downright sad that some of these individuals are condemened and efforts always made to not allow them to speak to youth because they don't share the exact ideology of one party.

    It's time to do some reflection on what is truly important.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Alvaro

    Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh the leaders of the Repugnant Party
    they want the USA and the american people to fail, how unamerican and unpatriotic is this, god forbid a Democrat says this, he or she would we hang to dry. I just became an American citizen last year and really routing for our country to be succesfull coming out of this crisis, I have lost a lot of money on my 401 K (50%) I am not rich
    Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh they are rich the dont have to worry about money so they really dont care wether we fail or succeed, I am
    rooting for this country and for all Americans, Independants, Republicans and Democrats and everyone else, I am an American,
    and I am rooting for the USA USA USA USA USA USA !!!!!

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |


    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. LuAnn & Wayne Houle

    I hope the day Limbaugh's head explodes that he falls over on Anne Coulter. Thus killing two azzholes with one.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Ed from PA

    Maybe Steele has some worth after all... I'm just leery of the GOP electing its first minority chairman after our country's first minority president was elected.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Mike in VA

    What Limbaugh said is:
    "What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and re-form this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation?"

    Would Steele and Cantor disagree with that statement? The trouble with Limbaugh is, as a conservative, he says what needs to be said and the Democrats don't want to hear it and especially they want no one else to hear it as well. It would do well for more Republicans embrace more conservative values.

    Glad CNN can still make a story out of this.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. The truth will set you free

    I would like to share the following:

    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

    No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Material wealth regarded as having an evil influence.) Matthew 6: 19-24

    What master are you serving? To Limbaugh, Coulter, those worried about loosing their worldly possessions etc... my advice to you would be to seek God's word and study it for yourself.

    To Ms. Coulter, no PRESIDENT OBAMA is not Jesus, he is a soldier in the army of the Lord. Please understand that when God if for you who can be against you? God can do anything but fail!!

    Our country needs to seek God first, for he is the way, the truth and the light!!

    God Bless & Peace

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. I love lasagna

    Steele is not the leader of the GOP.

    Palin is the leader of the GOP.

    Steele answers to Palin.

    And Palin answers to Garfield.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Brad - Ohio

    Rush Limbaugh is an angry and disturbed man. It is a shame that his message of hate and divisiveness resonates with so many Republicans.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Steve L New Jersey

    Oh-oh. Big Daddy Rush is going to have to smack down another wanna be leader.

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. Puppet

    Common Mr Michael Steele, let the world know who the leader of the gop is! Don't back down or cave. Let rush the "ugly" know you're the leader. Show the world you're not another republican puppet!

    March 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. Pitah PA

    Last year when Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama, Puss Limbaugh stated it was entirely because of race; that nothing else entered into the decision. While I don't believe for a millisecond that is true, and could never think that little of a man of Mr Powell's stature and intellect, it is difficult not to draw a similar conclusion as to why the GOP chose Mr Steele. After the convention, the media correctly noted less black delegates could be counted in the hall than the past 20 or so years. Perhaps republicans felt it was time to do a little bridge building with minorities, along came Michael Steele. As the saying goes . . .connect the dots!!

    March 2, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Stacey Ellis

    Steele's apology to Rush will follow – for sure.

    March 2, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |

    I don't know why anyone will pay attention to anyone who wants an American president's policies to fail. If the policies fail who gets affected? An American President is an American President and represents our nation. It is unpatriotic to say you want him to fail, you may disagree with him, but remember his decisions affect most of us if not RUSH.

    Talk of being "PATRIOTIC" when you want your nation to fail!

    March 2, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Professor Grinch

    Today's adults are far from being "grown-ups". They're adults in years only. Very few of them have grown up to be mature level-headed thinkers. There's much too much of an us-versus-them mentality, just like kids on a playground. It's not only depressing, it's sickening. And the Republicans seem to be the worst offenders...the rich spoiled brats who have never grown up, still expecting to have everything just the way they want it...and usually get it. Who can forget Cheney's sneer, even when he was attempting to smile. Limbaugh is the same way. They chuckle and sneer and belittle anyone who disagrees with them. Coulter is no different. They all need to grow up and get over it.

    March 2, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. DNC must be changed.

    Definitely, I highly respect that Michael Steele is leader and chairman of RNC. We, however, need simultaneously Limbaugh, Coulter, and Hannity who are available to expose as well as to pinpoint right way what are President Obama/Pelosi and Harry Reid going to leade American WITH A WRONG WAYS.To spendthrift 3,600,000,000,000.00 will be biggest and historical mistaken by Obama/Pelosi/Harry. Look at stock markets since President Obama inaugurated on Jan. 20,
    Dow has plunged, dropped and downed over and over again below
    lowest 6,850 points since 1997.

    March 2, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. Michele Bachmann "We're running out of rich people!"

    Breaking News ........................

    Micheal Steel calls Rush Limbaugh radio show

    'I am sorry man , I am really sorry. It was all a misunderstanding sir. I swear I am behind you 100%. Please forgive me for not checking with you first .... '

    March 2, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. G in Seattle

    I smell an apology to Rush within 24!....

    March 2, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Greg in MN

    Infighting in the nec-con camp? I LOVE IT!!!!

    March 2, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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