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. Don in Albuquerque

    Well at least someone from the RNC knows when enough is enough. Steele just went up two notches in my opinion.

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. Bob Dickerson

    How racist of CNN to dis the actual leader of the Republican Party, Michael Steele! Anything negative about a black man is racist anymore right?

    But Mr. Steele, Limbaugh's comments are nothing compared to the real 'ugly' commentary during the Bush years.

    In reality, I believe we can all agree that it is Nancy Pelosi who is ugly.

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Dave

    Folks, you see what's happening here is that the liberal media only want Donovan McNabb, err, I mean Michael Steele to succeed because he's black. – El Rushbo

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Matt Schoewe

    It's obvious that Rush's comments struck a nerve and the Democrats are cowering. He has them on the ropes. The Democrats are not doing themselves any favors, either...their constant in-fighting, Obama's disappointing first month or so (gross miscalculations on his appointments, a travesty of a "stimulus" package, etc.) are also taking their toll. It's looking like a bad time to be a Democrat right now.

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. Charles

    Whether Mr. Steele knows it or not, Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican. If he says "jump," the party says "how high?"

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Streamwood Bill

    Actually I don't see that much difference between what Rush Limbaugh says and what Michael Steele does.

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Napoleon Complex

    Not sure why anyone is paying attention to Limbaugh anyway. He's trotting out the same old stuff from 30 years ago. He conveniently failed to mention that not only was the money that Bush spent on the war not his, but that the lives lost and blood shed were not his either. All in an effort to create an imperial presidency built on lies. That's why the Republicans won't regain the White House during Limbaugh's lifetime.

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. tish chulack


    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. E B

    what are all you naysayers going to do when this country will reap benefits from what this President is atempting to do. Say the sucsess was because of "W" and the Repubs. There will be some success, how much time will tell. The most important thing is President Obama is trying to help THIS country, not doing things that will destroy it.

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. Grampmore

    One nice thing about conservatives, they never agree with one another. They are destined to self destruct.

    March 2, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Matt

    When will people realize that all Limbaugh is in it for is ratings. He's a talk show host. Tyra, Letterman, Limbaugh, Mike and Mike...all of these people perform for ratings. If Limbaugh really cared to change things or push the Republican agenda, he should put his mouth where his money is and run for something.

    Limbaugh and every right or left leaning talking head on TV and Radio are just out to make ratings. They do nothing but push 1 singular agenda...themselves.

    The more hatred he spews and the more press everyone gives the gasbag, the more ratings he gets. He's winning the only thing he truly cares about, money.

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. philosopherkingtomas

    why do Republicans love Rush Limbo and his racism, sedition, hate mentality?

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. whisper

    Limbaugh gives Republicans a bad name. His angry hate filled words disgust us. Its pretty bad when troops in Iraq turn him off! My brother n Law just got back, and states that they hate him over there, they think he is un American.

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. greenman

    what a turn of events that an admitted drug addict is even a possibility as the 'voice' of the republican party. limbaugh would be having a fleid day if it were the democrats leader.

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Rock

    You've obviously been listening to too many repulbican talking points. Take a look at the plan for yourself and stop being just another sheep.

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Nancy Renaud

    Rush is an idiot. Perhaps he is swallowing more of his dillusion pills. He thinks he is bigger than life. Face it. He is nothing but a blow-heart. When he says that Obama is trying to scare the public he is really talking about himself. He is the one spewing hatred and fear. He needs to go suck an egg.

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. FactCheck

    He is the leader of the RNC much in the same way that Alex Rodriguez is the leader of the Yankees.

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. E T

    While Limbaugh has the right to say anything he wants, the media has the right and obligation to not put it on the airways.

    I think he is campaigning for 2012, and doing everything to undermine President Obama. He seems to want to move the blame from the last 8 years to President Obama. Republicans or Democrats we need to stand together in these extremely troubled times.

    Keep Limbaugh off the air!

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. 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.... cant wait till jack comes today and ask that Q.

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. philosopherkingtomas

    Isnt inciting a riot dangerous Rush?

    March 2, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Gong Show

    Frankly, neither Michael Steele nor obviously Rush, are fit to lead anything.

    The only two men fit to lead the Republican party are Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul. They're the only two who want to cut spending but still take a hard line on threats facing America.

    March 2, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Aaron, Fort Worth

    If Steele can prove HE is the leader instead of the same Limbaugh/Coulter/O'reily/Beck puppeteers that are out there right now, then – and ONLY then, would I vote Republican again. The neo-cons have done a terrific job dividing this nation. I want a true moderate leader that puts country before party.

    March 2, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Debby

    Well someone better lead somewhere as the stock market and people's retirement are getting flushed down the bowl. While Obama and his wife are sucking down lobster and tooting around to restaurants in Chicago on Air Force one the rest of us are eating baloney sandwich's.

    March 2, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. Greg

    But Steele is a performer, too. A black face to apply some black-face to the rich white GOP. The misguided result of the party's misguided and offensive thought that Obama won because of his race. They parade their minority members like circus side shows. Come see Michael Steele, the world's loneliest black man. In the next ring, Bobby Jindal, the two faced boy. Watch as he decries the Stimulus Bill while simultaneously holding his hand out.

    March 2, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Welll

    Rush needs to get some more illegal drugs and settle down.
    He should be in prison as a felon!!!!!

    March 2, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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