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. jAYjAY

    Republican in fighting..........BRING IT ON

    March 2, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Survivor

    they (GOP) will continue to rant and rave and spew but will have no answers to the problems that Obama faced when he took office – the reason being is that their party was the watchdog when the whole system collapsed – Obama is making changes in favor of the "regular working families" and not marching to the big corporation tune – we have tried that and it has let us down, deregulation has let us down, there is no way but up and we have to take a hard path to make corrections – there is time in the future for speculation but it is not now.

    March 2, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. Jim

    Please tell me he made his comments with some kind of hip hop beat in the background.

    March 2, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |

    IF this is what the Rupublican party is all about, we in this country is in real trouble. This whole party is about hate, and anger. How can we let them run this country. They would set us back 100 years. Wait up America. This is where we are heading in 2012.

    March 2, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. southerner

    Yeah right Steele, Limbaugh does run the party which is why a congressman from Georgioa had to apologize to Limbaugh once. I bet Steele is calling daddy Limbaugh right now apologizing. I know for a fact Cantor did it last night too.

    March 2, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Dorothy M. Oliver, Greensboro, NC

    That the Republican Party chose him as its speaker is telling.

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. southerner

    Yeah right Steele, Limbaugh does run the party which is why a congressman from Georgioa had to apologize to Limbaugh once. I bet Steele is calling daddy Limbaugh right now apologizing. I know for a fact Cantor did it last night too.

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. Grog in Ohio

    It will be interesting to see what Rush says about Steele. I'd wager that those upcoming comments will make the term "ugly" look weak.

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. JoAnna

    I'm shocked that Republicans would select Coulter, Limbaugh and Rove as ANY of their speakers or advocates. Limbaugh's never been in politics and is a former addict who should've gone to prison for the forged prescriptions, Rove ought to be in jail and Coulter makes women look bad. Has Coulter ever actually held a political seat of any kind? I've never understood her credentials but she's just obnoxious and combative. You would think Republicans would embrace politicians like Ron Paul given all they are concerned with is PR and winning back the White House. Where on Earth is the concern for the country? The Republican party has become entirely un-American. It's far more disappointing that Americans actually listen to Limbaugh's broadcasts.

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Marlene

    Steele and Jindal are nothing but tokens; figureheads for a GOP trying to polish it's image. Limbaugh really is the voice of the GOP/Conservatives and I am glad it is being brought out in the open. Now the GOP is exposed for the blatant, rigid and bigoted racists many of us knew they were.

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Laverne

    Oh Michael Steele, you better think again. The republican party gave you the title, but is giving Rush all the respect. Listen, the republican party does not want to be a party of reason and change. Make no mistake about it, they like being devisive, racist and rude. You can try to change them, but at the end of the day the only change they are interested in is changing things back to the way they use to be!

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. Paul

    Well the GOP head does not get it. Rush is a genius not an entertainer. Rush would not want to be the head on the RNC anyway. Both parties have lost their way and I am ready for the "Rush" party with Rush ae the presidential canditate and Glenn Beck as Veep.

    Rush/Beck 2012

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. Sher

    There's so many sheep bellowing now; it's getting difficult for them to find their own dog!

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. Stream Of Consciousness

    LOL..take back the country?? You guys had control of it for years and look where that has gotten us. I find it laughably hypocritical that Republicans can spew so much vitriol while placing all the blame squarely on President Obama. Okay, maybe his plan won't work....but I have yet to see a single idea, or plan other than 'tax cuts' from those criticizing.

    And for the record I am not what one could consider an Obama supporter...and I'm definitely no Democrate or Republican. We need a whole new party system.

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. losano

    Mr. Steel, you are not realy the head of the GOP, you are just poppet, Rush Limbo had just showed you that, he is the one who is leading the GOP party, but he is leading it on the wrong way. Mr Steel, you brand (GOP) ain't selling right now, that is so unfortunate, and beside, no one respect you in the GOP party.

    I don't with those kind of rhetoric, the GOP will be atractive to monorities. But the funny thing is that, thanks to Rush Limbo, Hannity, and other no brainer talk-show, your party will remain a monority party for a long, long time.

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. connie sturgeon

    Audrey, I am not a fan of Pelosi or Ried ,but I don't think anyone is going to pull President Obama's strings.What you call pork someone else see as necessary.Why didn't Boehner and his pal Bush work on the infrastructure for the past eight years. All I can say now the losers want to run the show, get over it.

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  17. gary, gpp

    The republican party is more and more beginning to look like the Hitler brownshirts of the 1930's with Limbaugh / Coulter as their leaders. A bunch of mindless thugs spewing their trash.

    March 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. true daughter of the american revolution

    First of all, there has never been a worse president than Bush II. Period.
    You all need to stop listening to entertainers like Limbaugh and Hannity. They do not have the republican party's best interest in mind, they go for the ratings and use whatever tactics necessary to obtain them. And that includes misinformation and manufactured drama.
    Remember, they get paid to entertain. That means they are actors; entertainers – with little or no intellectual value attached.
    Do you all think that because there was such an outcry over the 8 lame Bush presidency years, that now the thing to do is return the criticism, no matter if it’s based in reality?
    If the war spending was not in the budget, then we were deceived. Thanks, Bush II.
    We spent a lot of money in Iraq, and for what, REALLY?
    Our national debt doubled under Bush II.
    Do you all really believe that this can be solved in a month or two? We are not a microwave democracy here – meaning, you don’t put something in for a few minutes and it’s ready to eat.
    This huge mess will take time to fix.
    Maybe Obama doesn’t have all the answers, but we KNOW that the republican dogma will not work – could the election be any more of an indication with how OUT OF TOUCH the GOP is?
    I mean, really. I realize you all have to hold onto some sort of thread to keep your party alive, but your irrelevancy is astounding, and your lack of awareness to that point is off the charts.
    And your cheerleaders: Coulter, Limbaugh, Hannity and the likes – are old, wornout hags.
    Now, all of you who are complaining – find some solutions.
    If you have none, SHUT UP, go back to school, read a book, do something HELPFUL for a change and do your best not to follow the lead lemming off the clif.

    March 2, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. Mike

    I guess it goes to show how stupid the republican party really is and that they would belive an idiot like Limbaugh, who is throwing around false accusation and wants a US President to failure, I guess his afraid this guy might actually succeed in his efforts to turn this country back around after 8 years of failure by a Republican who did nothing but line the pockets of his fellow oil man and bankers, whom now we as tax payers have to bail out. How is that Mr. Limbaugh that when the Democrats left office they handed over a surplus and booming economy and now after 8 years we inherit a mess from your so called great leader who did not thing at all, yet you have to audacity to to call for failure by a President who actually might do something.

    The problem with you Rush is taht you're just plain dumb stupid can't see past anything other then your rhetoric and BS. Wake up and say a positive thing we don't need idiots like you spreading bad will there is enough of it thanks to your' buddy Bush and the entire Republican party who are the biggest spenders of all time.

    Go move to another country!

    March 2, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. dem in chicago

    How delightful! Whatching the republican party is like watching a slow motion car wreck. And boy have the earned the predictament they're in! Republican incompetence leading the United States? Hopefully never again.

    March 2, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. OHIO here

    It is all a disgrace

    March 2, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. GOP = ECHHH!

    "The stimulus package was reflective of her handiwork, "

    Keep peddling that, Audrey, keep peddling that. The GOP knows they can't take on the uber-popular Obama without looking like buffoons, so they're trying to put a wedge between him and his party. This "Pelosi-did-it" garbage has been spewing forth for weeks now as the GOP trots out their new strategy. Fail.

    March 2, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. Greedy CEOs of America

    The GOP stands for liberty and freedom not the kind of restrictive regulations the democrats are emplementing on business. The GOP is for smaller government because it knows if you just leave the private sector alone it will police itself and create economic miracles for the world as a whole.

    March 2, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. Kerri

    In all honesty, who cares what Rush Limbaugh has to say. He is a radio talk show host who is trying to get his rating up and needs to fuel a fire to do it. How he got where he is today is a mystery.

    March 2, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. brian holcomb

    I'm sure there will be a lot of hard-core slamming from the left and right sides because of Rush's provocative statements - but what we all really need to do is pull together and solve this crazy mess we are in, TOGETHER – for everyone's good. Bad as 9/11 was, our current situation is just as bad in a different way -and we all pulled together then, too. And statistically, most americans have pulled together. So all the die-hards need to get over it and put our country first and quit all this stupid back-and forth caused by an attention-starved idiot.

    March 2, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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