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. altondrew

    Mr. Limbaugh may be the excuse fiscal conservatives need for initiating a cleansing of the GOP. Before the party can focus on providing the United States with a viable alternative political product, it will have to decontaminate the factory. Allow Mr. Limbaugh to act as the needle to draw out the bad blood and then dump the vial. If Mr. Steele plays his cards right, he can start surgically removing Limbaugh and his followers. Hopefully Steele can come to the realization that this was the dirty job he was elected to accomplish by 2012.

    Alton E. Drew

    March 2, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  2. Unshrub

    Yeah, right. I beleive that like I believe the republicans want to work with Obama.

    March 2, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    This guy is a window dresser designed to feign Republican affection for the minority.HOMO HOMINI LUPUS EST!

    March 2, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Will, NJ


    March 2, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. digger

    Rush Limbaugh has never said he is, or wants to be the leader of the rep. party. That is something that the dems say just to rile people up. He rips the reps. just like the dems if they have it coming. If people would listen to him they would know.

    March 2, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. HH

    SSDD. They're all alike – Barack Obama included. A politician is a politician is a politician.

    March 2, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. DazedAndConfused

    Can this be? Is steele actually going to show us that he has the cajones to take on his master? We will see! 😀

    March 2, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Eyes in Illinois

    Michael Steele doesn't sound as if he knows his own party. I know Rush Limbaugh rules the conservative right party. That is why the right has gone so wrong!!! The entire situation with the GOP and the conservative right is downright ugly. I don't see one bright point with Michael Steele, Sarah Palin, or Bobby Jindal.

    March 2, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. NICK

    Is Steele still around? I thought that racist pig Rush got rid of him already. As Sarah said, "he doesn´t look like us".

    March 2, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. DinB

    It seems that CNN is looking to keep Limbaugh on their front page all the time lately. Smart money says they are in negotiations for THE LIMBAUGH HOUR ON CNN. There has been WAY too much lip service for the guy than actual news warrants.

    March 2, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. barnhardt in NC

    If you look up "disarray" in the dictionary in March, 2009, you'll find a red, white and blue elephant with GOP under it as the image of the word.

    March 2, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Stephanie

    Rush is telling the truth and you know it! Our country is going down fast and all they want to do is keep taxing us! We need tax CUTS not more taxes. Ron Paul is who should be President!

    March 2, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Minnesota

    Yeah, sure... you lead the party. Good luck with that!

    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. Yamini Balachandran from AZ

    Do this thing and this will help you all for sure:::

    Take a Vibrato and go to your Living Room and you know what to do next


    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. Jim

    IF Mr. Steele wants a winner in 2010 and 2012, he would be wise to listen to Limbaugh and others like Hannity and those who want the party to stand for something and be different from the Dems. Otherwise, we might as well have a one-party state.
    Get with it Mr. Steele andshow us how Republicans ARE different from Democrats. Otherwise, we will continue to vote Democrat because there's not real difference.

    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  16. MrRevolution

    Mr. Steele will learn the hard way. And then there will be no one to feel bad for him.

    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. karen-Phoenix

    Rush is an ugly man and makes ugly comments and he one of the reason after 40 years I am NO LONGER a republican. What happened to the republican party of Eisenhower that built the interstate system and said "Never allow the American millitary industrial machine" to take over?????

    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Oh! The Irony

    Yup. The Rahm Emanuel strategy is taking place as we speak.

    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  19. Glen in Los Angeles

    Let's see who's able to throw vitriol at who and get away with it. My bet is that Limbaugh will call the shots.

    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  20. Arin

    I like Limbaugh. He's a recovering drug addict. He's real! Oxycontin is no laughing matter. Thank God for government programs that help drug addicts. Limbaugh is a good example for everyone. Rehab works. Steele, you are too nasty.

    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  21. indianapolis

    Rush Limbaugh is an idiot, not worth another mention on this blog. Period. End of story.

    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Charles Atlanta

    Ohoh.. he still doesn't know his position is. He may be gone soon if anyone challenges King Rush.

    March 2, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. mag

    Talk about delusions – he may lead the party, but Limbaugh/Rove/Coulter lead him. He's another republican puppet.


    You're absolutely correct ! He's just a puppet, rush is the ordained leader of the GOP, he has more support than any GOP now, and we'll draft him for 2012.

    March 2, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. the Film Professor

    Hey Michael,

    Guess what? THe GOP is a circus. Rush is the Ringmaster; you are just the carnival barker.

    When you figure out that they don't have a place for you inside the tent, please come to your senses and come on over and join us on the Democratic side.

    March 2, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  25. mcl

    I LOVE RUSH !!!!!!!!!!

    March 2, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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