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. S Wand

    I saw Rush's comments. I vote that he head up the brown shirts.
    None, of he or this, we need.

    March 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. alfred bell

    If what Rush said is ugly it is because of what Obama and his gang are doing IS UGLY. I am disappointed in Mr. Steele's comment. I support what he wants to do but his interest in our Country is no greater than Rush or myself.

    March 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Talos

    As a Republican, I think this whole notion of Rush being the leader is ridiculous. He's a TALK SHOW jock. He doesn't make policy, he isn't privy to any of the government info. His job is to entertain people, nothing more.

    I enjoy listening ot him for a good laugh, and SOMETIMES he can make a point with his theatrics. But never confuse what he says on his show as being anything other then entertainment. Now, being an entertainer, he has to have a healthy ego and sense of self-worth. The problem is that he's starting to BELIEVE his own spew, and he's been caught by the Democrats because he went too far.

    Instead of backing down, he's forced to put on an even BIGGER show. So instead of helping the Conservative cause (which isn't all about Southern rednecks, by the way), he goes and hurts it by exposing his rants to the American mainstream.

    The Republicans in Congress needs to grow a pair and smack him upside his head, and tell him to pipe down until everyone calms down over the economy.

    March 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Roy

    Hey Steele: YOU had him give the keynote address at YOUR CPAC convention this weekend. YOU (the Republicans) put him in the spotlight to say he hopes the administration fails.

    If YOU (the party-first party) give Rush a national audience to say whatever he wants, how can YOU (Steele) complain about it?? How about putting a speaker on your OWN stage to say more positive things? This is a mess of YOUR OWN making.....Limbaugh is a JOKE, and an entertainer as YOU say......yet he is presented as the Republican policy 'revealer'. Rush is trying to inspire fear in US to further his incredibly small-minded vision of a narrow America.

    March 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Tim

    And the feeding frenzy begins. It is so ironic that last Fall when Hillary and Obama were both still in the primary Republicans were predicting an internal fight amongst Democrats. My how times have changed! Republicans are at each other's throats arguing about who leads/speaks for the party and their elected leaders, Hoyer and McConnell, are busy tanning and/or slient. You just keep bickering and attacking each other while the nation moves on without you! Republicans have lost all credibility on the economy. First, the vast majority of them agreed there was no problem or blamed all of "those people" accepting predatory loans. Now, all they can say is Obama's plan is not the answer. Either shut up or offer an alternative! The citizens of this great country are on to you!

    March 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. bob

    rush limbaugh is one huge fat wind bag who advocates hate and racism ...stand clear when the wind escapes be well out of 'sniffing' distance or you may never recover..obviously something he espouses for our country.What i dont understand is why the media continues to cover such trash????

    March 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. fran

    you have it right 100% ,had it, It's so hard to believe he doesn't know he is being used by the trifecta of the right wing lunatics...Limbaugh/Rove/Coulter. Google the SPLC and Youth for Western Civilization to find out more about WHO funded this years CPAC...seems they are welcoming official Hate-Groups now. This growing national hate group is forming on all college campus'...find them also on facebook.
    so,recognized hate groups fund the Republican partys yearly event and that isn't news???

    March 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Jasper

    I'ts difficult in this country when the republicans are in power.
    It will be miserable if the democrats turn it into a country. Rush is the one of those who are willing to point that out to many who can't see through the reality.

    March 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. Tanya kujath

    I can't help but get involved in a discussion about something as ridiculous as Rush, but it's like the joke about the mentally challenged you are not supposed to laugh at. You can't help but wonder what the H?LL he and his audience are talking about..................

    March 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. whitpjm

    If Rush has all the answers, why doesn't he run for office? What a know it all and do nothing. Waste he is

    March 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. Andrew

    The Republicans are so fragmented right now. The problem is that their values represent the past, and you see some 'newer' leaders trying to shift the party, while the old ones (Rush, etc) fighting it.

    March 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. dona

    Rush is definitely the leader. Look at the posts that are left by conservative bloggers on other sites.They are running to the front of the line to defend and agree with him. It is hilarious.

    March 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |



    March 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Tony

    Everybody has their "windbags"

    Limbaugh – GOP
    Pelosi – Democrats
    Sharpton – African-Americans

    Thank God the majority of folks don't really listen to these clowns.

    March 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. Bryan

    Rush confuses "principles" with stubborn inflexibility. His use of a football game as an analogy in the speech was appalling. It’s not a game. It’s a country! He kept driving home that “I want to win!” Politics is about compromise. If he wants to have this kind of power, let him get elected and be accountable for his actions.

    March 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. LindaT

    I would hate to think that Rush Limbaugh was the leader and spokesperson for my party. He is basically a drug addicted comedian. He hates himself so much it constantly must spew onto others. Colter and Rove are just as bad as Limbaugh. They are both trying to make a buck by running their mouths. I mean really ....was Rove that big of a success for the Bush administration? He helped to destroy that entire administration.

    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. Worstnightmare

    the dude of truth March 2nd, 2009 12:22 pm ET

    Rush is a fool who spews hatred and stagnation and promotes an agenda that hopes are leader fails. What a disgrace to Americans


    And the same can be said for Speaker Pelosi, Mr. Reid, Mrs. Clinton, and Mr. Obama. They made it exceedingly clear that they wanted the last president to fail in Iraq as well as other endeavours. Have you ever actually listened to Mr. Limbaugh or did you simple just take what others have said to form your opinion.

    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. csanus

    The comments "can be ugly", because the "TRUTH" is ugly.

    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. ksara

    Pelosi may run a big part of the show, but Obama is way too arrogant to be anybody's puppet. Her agenda IS his agenda. They will bankrupt our country before they ever stop pushing their agenda through.

    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. Kelly

    Steele's opinion does NOT in any way reflect what most true conservative Americans think. I thought Rush's speech was uplifting and actually gave me some hope. We need more of the Rush Limbaugh type in DC. I need to see the Michael Steele's of Washington step up and shake things up. So far...I've seen nothing.

    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  21. Greg

    I'd take Limbaugh over the idiots we have in charge now – Obama and his boss Pelosi are running this country into the ground in record time.

    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  22. Mark Mann

    It's a pretty sad situation when Rush Limbaugh is the spokesman for the GOP. His rhetoric is racist and never bothers with factual accuracy. The longer he is front and center for the Republicans, the more they will lose in Congress and in the next presidental elaction in 2012.
    There is no room in American politics for his brand of "entertainment".
    I challenge the GOP to distance themsleves from the likes of Mr Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the rest of the the bunch. They do not represnet my ideals as a Patriotic Republican.

    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. DFinFL

    And, what the GOP has to do is start working for Main Street instead of Wall Street. Good luck with that.


    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. Carl Justus

    If Steele thinks he is the leader of the republican party then he better start acting like it and quit following the lead of alligator mouth Limbaugh.
    Limbaugh has proven he is the republican party main spoke person for the republicans are following his lead and advice at ever turn. Limbaugh is one who sends out the signals, the tone, the policy that the republicans.
    Steele will not even make a good imitation of leading the party.

    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. Gerald Perigen

    I believe Rush L. is correct. Presisdent Obama should be telling "ALLLL" people that are poor, to pick themself up, and work for a living, rather than expect the government to always be there for them. If someone needs help after they try to help themselves, that's a different story.
    I have lost about everything financially, but I still can pick myself up and go to work.

    March 2, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44