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. Michal

    Rush is a small minded person, whose "fame" is built on hate, slurs, half-truths. He is miserable and wants to share that misery with the world. His remarks hoping that the USA policies fail is just another example of his truth feelings. My Republician friends need to wake up and get rid of him as their spokesperson. He and Coulter need to be shut out of the mainstream and sent back to the midnight radio shows in NoWhere, USA.

    March 2, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Sharon

    The "Pork Faced' Facists Limbaugh is the spokesperson for who? The ignorant, hate-mongering and misguided fools within the nation, a/k/a republicans.

    March 2, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. fideauxdon

    ".....Obama is Pelosi's puppet."

    What does this have to do with any coherent discussion about who is the Head of the Republican Party?

    March 2, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Dipsydont

    If you have to tell people you are in charge and wear the daddy pants, you are neither in charge nor do you wear the daddy pants.

    March 2, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Ray

    Well. I honestly hope all your jobs are secure. It is, for the most part, but not always that Republicians build the business' that provide most a job. But the most of you went down to the voting booth and voted against yourself. I hope your jobs are secure but if they dissappear you may only have yourself to blame.

    March 2, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. Capt. Snarky

    Read Rush's comments, watch his speech. I actually did. He said that conservatives want all to succeed, both those at the top of the economic ladder and those at the bottom. When he spoke of wanting the president to fail, it was in the context of the administration's shift towards socialist methods of governing and away from our traditional forms of democracy, not that he wants them to fail at economic recovery.

    A lot of his message got "lost" in the media's translation.

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Tulsa L

    If the Leading Republicans in Congress and in the Senate and any other Republicans that can't stand up to Rush Limbaugh and tell him to sit down and shut up for FEAR of what he might say about them have no place running our Government..........if they can't stand up to Limbaugh then HOW would they stand up to the Dictators (IRAN, VENZUELA , PAKISTAN, and all the other DICTATORS in this world.......not to mention the TERRORISTS. Limbaugh is a TERRORIST in my book, he insights hate and fear and if someone doesn't do something to stop this idiot he will be insighting riots before to long..........this man is bringing the GOP down..........

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Greg

    I can't begin to explain how much I have had it with Limbaugh being front page news on CNN.

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Debbie H

    Obama is Pelosi's puppet?! Audrey, you are living in a land of make-believe. There are plenty of tax cuts for small businesses in the stimulus – and lots of spending for infrastructure (which is also considered pork). You need to pay more attention to the facts instead of your Republican talking heads.

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. chris

    For Audrey:
    What you say makes no sense. It sounds like something recycled from Fox News. (Im right aren't I?) It is not"pork" if the goal is to improve the infrastructure of the country (physically, economically) by creating jobs. That is why you are hearing Republican Governors whine and claim it is all a bad idea, and in the next breath admitt they will take the money offerered. (Because they know it will help!)

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. Hispanic in Dallas, TX

    Let's talk "ugly" comments, what about all the ugly comments that liberals have made over the years about Bush, his wife and his children...all of the sudden the liberals are offended, please give a BREAK!!

    Everyone needs to take a chill pill and lets stop being a society that's overly sensitive about the wrong things!!

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. Mellie

    "Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats know they lose an argument with the Republican Party on substance "

    Republican Party? Substance? In the same sentence?!? Oh my goodness! The Brooklyn Bridge is falling!

    The Republican Party is the most hyprocritical group of loonies; you have no can only talk about Reagan and proposing Bush tax cuts. And then you have idiots like Ann Coulter running your party and making hour long rants based off of pure hate and skewed information.

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. George the Democrat Obama fanatic.

    Knee Grow Please!!!!!

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Don

    Think of how peaceful the world would be without any "Rush Limbaughs"

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. AEK

    Addendum to previous post...

    Yet more laughing...

    A Republican accusing ANYONE of using fear mongering to further a political cause!!!!!!!!!!

    Not so much laughing now.

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Ernest from MD

    Steele is a joke. he is no leader. He will endu just like JC Watts.
    The GOP is the white man's party. Steele has no place there. And Rush Limbaugh knows it. The republican party belongs to Rush Limbaugh. If Steele wants to stay at hist position, he has to take order from Rush. Period.

    March 2, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. P

    Steele is right, he is nothing but entertainment; the problem is lots of people actually take him SERIOUSLY. It's his comments and the people who heed them that further divide the country instead of unting us.

    March 2, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Rose Bernard-Carruth

    The whole republican party are hard nosed and you can see right thru thm they want president Obama to fail..but he won't because it is already by the Almighty hand that he will suceed...This stimulus will crerate jobs as the saying say you have to spend money to make money...rush need to keep his big mouth shut

    March 2, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. George the Democrat Obama fanatic.

    Knee Grow Please!!!!!

    March 2, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Darrick

    Somebody's waking up to the fact that he's been a token all of this time.

    March 2, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. dave

    When Steele said Rush was ugly I asked for a second opinion.

    Steele said "He's fat too".

    March 2, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  22. Tony

    Steele is nothing but a token, he has not figured out who the real leaders of the GOP really are.

    March 2, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. robh

    Sarah Palin is the leader of the GOP! Got it! There. SP2012!

    March 2, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. Rodney Neighbors the Republican leadership is out to get Limbaugh...Wimps....bending to the liberal media pressure...I thought Steele was a man of steel.
    We need a NEW Party !!

    March 2, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. Candy Wilson

    The Republicans do not need any more division of power.. He is right Rush L. is just that an entertainer.. The party needs an educated man as Mr. Steele as their leader..

    March 2, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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