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. Reggie

    Audrey, why is this so, is it because you listen to Rush and all the other knuckle heads in the repukeblican party. It's called pork because the repukeblicans say so. The so called pork is less than 2% of the total stimulus.

    March 2, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. KC

    ....and Pelosi is a vicious, vile, woman....that's life.

    March 2, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  3. M Paul

    Steele don't steal your leader's show. He is your leader and mentor and you and friends believe in him. He is your LORD and Savior. He guides your attitudes and toughts, he tells his delegates in Congress when to vote yes or no. Where were you when your master was supporting $12B/month in Irak? Steele don't steal the show. We know who's the leader of your party. You are just "capita".

    March 2, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. Betty

    Rush Limbaugh has no sense at all. What he needs to do is
    shut up. He is a sick man.

    March 2, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. JB

    How come Steele waited for Rush to deliver his wonderful speech over the weekend. Why is he not calling out Obama? The spending is ridiculous and teh feeling good about the spending has to stop. Rush at least made that point clear.
    Who cares who the leader of teh Rep. party is? The President is not even the leader of the Dem. party.

    March 2, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. zuker

    Rush = Bush. Many years of ignorance and not a day of progress.

    March 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. Phil

    If Steele finds Rush's statements "incendiary" and "ugly", then does that mean Steele does not support individual rights and democracy? Andrew Jackson was categorized as a Democratic-Republican. Maybe Steele should reconsider the party in which he is a member of.

    Steele is the entertainer. He is attempting to tickle the ears of the public rather standing for the rights of the individual. He would rather play politics and be an integral part to growing the govenrment.

    I am getting tired of hearing about race (which is racism). To put a person's accomplishments and qualifications second to his/her skin color cheapens the gifts of the individual. If a person is an African American, should he/she list that on his/her resume first? That is the message being broadcasted. 12% of this country's population is more than fairly represented in every facet of today's society. America is no longer racist and has not been for years. It has become a crutch for one to pull the race card. Please stop being racist and recognize the individual for his/her accomplishments, instead of recognizing the individual for his/her genetic makeup.

    Thank you,

    March 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. AncientRvr

    Limbaugh is the madman behind the machine and we all know it. His followers, which are the republican party base, will turn on the Republican Party the moment it disagrees with the Limbaugh view of the universe. And they know it. Limbaugh has got the airwaves and he keeps us "informed" of what "true americans" are to think. Steele was a great choice but he is no match for Limbaugh. Not even close.

    March 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. Marie

    Hey Audry, get a grip!. Warren Buffet, a bilionaire who earned every penny thru wise investments, and someone who has ACTUALLY READ the stimulus package made these remarks just this weekend:

    I think it is an excellent plan, it is what the economy needs, to do nothing would be the worst thing possible. My biggest concern is that the stimulus is not large enough.

    THANK YOU MR BUFFET!!! FIRST FOR THE $50,000.00 dollars my investments with your company has earned over the last 8 years, but also for the courage to speak the truth to power.

    I wonder how many RepubliSCUMS have read the bill?????

    March 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. Kevin -- Indiana

    The only way to settle this is with an applause-o-meter. Who can excite the GOP crowd the most??? 🙂

    March 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. Hypocrit

    Guess you've listened to Him, as well as his most recent speech for youself "dude of truth", right?

    March 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. rick

    Limbaugh is an entertainer who believes he speaks for the entire Republican Party. He only has use for his own opinion. It is good to see that one Congressman (Cantor) has addressed the failure comment. However, Limbaugh will make sure his minions deluge the Congressman with hate mail for disagreeing with their leader. Limbaugh's hate speech should be addressed by more republican office holders. Someone who professes to love this country should not go unchallenged when he cheers for failure for the Country.

    March 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. Kevin

    The people I know who listen to Rush seem detached from reality. They are very convinced that the things Rush tells them are true, even though they don't do any fact-checking for accuracy. They are still good people, but I think they would be better served if they listened to a little of Ed Shultz to balance things out.

    March 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. notarush

    Anyone who would actually listen to anything that idiot Rush Limbaugh has to say obviously has nothing more than a room temperature IQ. He is a pure and simple racist and everyone knows it.

    March 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. 2010

    Democrats bashed Bush for 8 years. Many openly wanted the war in Iraq to fail. Harry Reid said "the war is lost" on several occasions. Talk about wanting failure.

    Now Rush (a talk show host mind you) says he wants Obama's policies of socialism to fail, and everyone is up in arms about it? ROFLMAO. Hypococrisy is one thing that never "changes" in Washington.

    March 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. enough

    Rush is creating separation of race and partys, everything that president obama stands for. He leads people astray, let's not forget the last time people drank the koolaide.

    March 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Brandon

    Obama's campaign rhetoric was nothing but lies, hes not going to cut spending just tripe the debt in his first month.

    The Dude of Truth, lets be honest...Democrats wanted Bush to fail, thats why the turned their back on him and decisions they made (i.e. Iraq) ALONGSIDE him.

    Rush can sometimes be a little extreme, but what he says does have truth to it.

    One more thing, why is that Republicans can be accused of being hateful for disagreeing with policy but democrats are not?

    March 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  18. Chuck

    Limbaugh is a traitor to his country. He shamefully puts the well-being of his political party and his own popularity ahead of the well-being of his country, as evidenced by his comments. His followers are sheep who are incapable of thinking for themselves. That's a recipe for disaster.

    March 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Concerned

    Why should Steel feel threatened?

    I reluctantly goaded myself to listen to Rush's address to CPAC expecting to hear some crazed loon. However, what I heard moved me greatly. He spoke the conservative truth in ways that I had not heard in a very long time.

    I would like to hear what Steel says about Rush today. I cannot think of a time where either the DNC or RNC chair was considered the one true leader of their party. He needs to get over himself and work behind the sceens to bring in monitary support and develop sound candidates for future elections and keep his inflamitory opinions about the voices of the concervative movement to himself.

    March 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. jbgood

    Yes...Michael is da man....he's da man. Well, according to the latest GOP big mouth, Michelle Bachmann, that is.

    March 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |


    March 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. a7m

    Steele is not the leader of GOP– just a facade. No one listens to Steele.

    March 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. Arkay, MI

    How does this guy dare question Limbaugh? His days as an RNC chair are numbered

    March 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. Hawaii girl

    Steele is the "token" black guy of the party. He is not their leader, and I cannot see the southern white members of the GOP, which is the base of the party, agreeing to be lead by him, as they are bigots. They listen more the the hate -filled rantings of big, fat, blowhard, drug addict RushLimbaugh. The GOP will become more and more irrelevant as time goes on unless they come up with some REAL solutions to our troubled economy and agree to work with the President that was elected by the majority of Americans. Obama, who is brillant, is our President, let's all work together. Spewing hate is certainly not helping the GOP or our country!

    March 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  25. Mark C. Eades

    Rush Limbaugh, not Michael Steele, is the leader of the Republican Party. This cannot be emphasized enough or repeated enough. The GOP is the party of Rush Limbaugh.

    March 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
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