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. Palin fan...NOT

    Rush Limbaugh is a big fat blowhard.

    March 2, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. Ted:Canada

    Rush is the best thing that happened to the Democrats!

    As long as he is there and still mouthing off – the Republicans will never get in...

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. bessie jackson

    rush is the 21'st centuries bull connor, he has a big mouth ,he's racist and think's he's a politician! what college did he attend and what was his major? the only thing rush is doing is pushing blacks and other non- whites futher away from the republican party1

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Meka

    That might be what your saying, but that's not what's going on !

    Rush Limaugh is IN CHARGE!

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Nick Mann

    What exactly is ugly? How has stock market faired since Obama was elected?......he can only use the inherited excuse for so long. Sooner or later people are going to realize that Obama's agenda is to destroy capitalism. Obama's war on the working tax payers and investors in this country will destroy it. You cannot attack and punish the only people that actually pay the bills.

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. Steele is d'man

    Rush isn't the leader of the Republican party? Yeah right. That's why they had him speak at CPAC for 90 minutes. What a joke.
    Rush stating he hopes President Obama fails and Rush's cheering minions are a disgrace. It's about as unpatriotic as you can get.

    In case any of you were wondering about the 'beyond cutting edge' and 'one armed midget' remarks, it's just code for their 2010 strategy. Mr. Boehner is part oompa loompa (note the orange color). He has a relative in Loompa Land who was injured in a factory accident. They are going to promise Ever Lasting Gob Stoppers to capture the urban sweet tooth demographic. Candy that lasts forever is beyond cutting edge. Come on folks......spread the rumors. It's no more ridiculous than the other non truths being repeated.

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. DR

    What is your definitions of infrastructure spending vs. pork projects? Many pork projects are considered infrastructure spending. For example, upgrading volcano tracking equipment IS infrastructure spending for areas around volcanos.

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Limbalongne

    Anyone that takes Rush Limbaugh seriously is an idiot... He is just an overweight entertainment junkie out to make money even if it hurts the people of the USA.

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Brooke

    I may not agree with Rush all the time, and he may annoy me most of the time, but that speech of his was brilliant. He hit the nail on the head. R.I.P. America.

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. PA Dem

    I suppose Rush isn't fresh, jiggy or cajezzey enough for the new cutting edge, hip-hop Rep Party. Now they don't want him. They are really digging their own political grave.

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Scott - Cincinasti OH

    Though I can't stand Rush Limbaugh, I hope he continues to speak as the leader of the republican party. With any luck he will lead them of a cliff into the abiss! He, and those who support him, are lunatics who ONLY know how to hate.

    March 2, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Sean

    In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was nobody left to speak up. – Reverend Martin Niemoller, Germany, 1930's

    Rush speaks up because he wants to stop Socialism. You may not want to agree with him but Obama's objectives will lead us to Socialism. We are not Socialists. Socialists are one step away from Communists.

    March 2, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    Truth is, McToken is a figurehead. Libaugh and his ilk knew the conservative base was going to be mindlessly enraged by Obama's election, particularly the racists in the south and midwest. They're now cashing in on the anger and hate. That's all it, ratings, selling books, garnering listernership, viewership and tv time. They're running around the USS GOP with corkscrews and drills, and every single hateful, misleading and fabricated comment pokes another hole in the hull. McToken can say whatever he wants, but if he wants to prove he's captain of the ship, he better rein them in before their continued divisiveness sinks the party. That's for the good of the country tho, because I wouldn't toss any of the them a life jacket if you paid me.

    March 2, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. John in Grand Rapids

    I love ya Mike, but as a Conservative, I'd follow Rush into a battle of ideas before you or any other, with possible exceptions given to Dr. Williams and Dr. Sowell.

    A little lesson Mike, embrace the idea of Rush being one of the last true conservatives and embrace the 20 some odd MILLION that listen to him each week, you and the so called Republican party will be better off.

    and dude of truth, since an economics lesson would be wasted on your liberal mind, at the very least, "hopes our leaders fail"

    March 2, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Marcia K. Batista

    The Demos should use the video of a bloated ranting Limbaugh to put a face on failed Republicanism. In fact, isn't that what Team O is doing–driving the party back to its Right Wing Southern base. Hey conservatives–you can have Rush. He's way past his use by date.

    March 2, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. jasonDT

    Mr. Steele is delusional! Limbaugh and Coulter are, without doubt, the leaders of the new GOP. This a great news for Democrats everywhere. For the majority of the American people (and voters) to accept them as national leaders, the clock will have to be turned back many hundreds of years when most people lived in blatant ignorance working as either serfs or slaves under corrupt aristocrats to a ripe old age of 40.

    March 2, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Gerald

    The stock market has spoken and Obama has failed

    March 2, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    DANCE PUPPET DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 2, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. TracyM.

    Audrey: President Obama is nobody's puppet, that much is very clear. I think those of us who witnessed the last eight years just have a hard time imagining an inclusive process, one which takes everyone's views and opinions into consideration. Of course, you're never going to hear President Obama say, "I'm the decider!" in a petulant, spoiled frat-boy tone. Pelosi's obvious dislike of President Obama's Iraq timeline shows that while he may value her opinions in some areas, in others he takes into consideration the opinions of those who are militarily inclined. If you don't like President Obama, you should probably find some other, more factual basis.

    March 2, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. Richard-Missouri

    Steele's an idiot, and exemplifies what I call the 'wussification' of the Republican party. Rush Limbaugh speaks to MANY more true, blue Republicans than this clown. It appears to many Republicans, that the party and it's leaders have lost both their message and their backbone. Rush, on the other hand, has carried the mantle, and kept a consistent message. If the republican leaders had listened to people like Rush in the first place (and not selected a lackluster, Democrat in Republican clothing like McCain, and his loser sidekick, Sarah "I Can't Speak without a Prepared Statement" Palin), our country MIGHT not be in the mess it's in (the Repubs would have a tough sell no matter what, since they spent themselves out of a job. the idiots lost credibility as being fiscally responsible and conservative. they lost their brand. now, no matter what they say, Democrats can call them liars and hippocrites. Republicans have really hosed themselves!). Steele better watch getting on Rush's bad side. A great many more Republicans agree with Rush, than the wussy leaders in the Republican party, who blow with the wind as they try to figure out what they THINK people want from the party. IDIOTS! It's so easy, but they would NEVER get it. That is why they will continue to lose (if they do not change their tune, and get back to basics). True Republicans (the conservative majority) do NOT want the moderate party the idiot leaders are creating. If they keep it up, I predict we will see many more people leave the Republican party and vote Independent, or worse, Democrat. After all, if a Republican only stands for maybe 20% of what you believe, then why vote for that person? Just because they have an '-R' following their name on the ballot? NOT!!! The head of the Republican party IS Rush (at least I maintain more Republicans agree with Rush's philosophy, than with the wusses who state they are the leaders of the party). The Republican leadership needs to grow a spine, say things like they are (that Dems are ruining the country, and back up the talk with specifics), and get back to their conservative foundation. If they do not, they have already lost the 2012 Presidential election.

    March 2, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. sam

    now that kind off jokes u cant find even if u payed for it MR STEEL thought u were smarter then that, u leader u think baby....

    March 2, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Libs are Goofy....

    @ Ellen March 2nd, 2009 11:16 am ET wrote .....

    "Rush Limbaugh is a stupid loud mouth drug addict. If he didn't spew hate and ignorance he wouldn't have a pay check. I wish he would just OD and be gone."

    Ahhh.... the hypocrisy of libs is astonishing.... whenever I need a really good laugh, I visit this site!!!

    Ellen, what exactly are you spewing in YOUR comment? I guess, in your mind, it's okay for you to spew hate since you're an enlightened lib

    March 2, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Brent, LR

    Unfortunately for the Republican party, the people who follow Rush Limbaugh are its backbone right now. Their rhetoric is reflective of his angry, poorly reasoned bile, and the politicians follow his talking points in lockstep.

    Limbaugh hides behind the shield of "entertainment" whenever he is attacked for outrageous statements. The fact is, he's a hate-monger and an opinion leader with no shred of ethics. He appeals to the angry and the uneducated, and gives free speech a bad name.

    Hopefully, people will wake up and see him for the angry blowhard that he is.

    March 2, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    So Rush Limbaugh thinks that the demise of America is "entertainment."

    I don't care what happens to him. I just wish he would disappear.

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. fools

    Rush is a big fat fool.

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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