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. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    Audrey, show me the pork projects...........please outline them right here on this blog.

    Show me when Pres. Obama promised tax cuts for small businesses. Show me if there are no tax cuts for small businesses in the recent stimulus plan.

    Show me how tax cuts have worked in the past.

    Tell me exactly how Pelosi "runs the show."

    Do you listen to Rush Limbaugh on a regular basis?

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

    I watched Rush's speech at CPAC. If you actually listened to what he said, not the out-takes, he is right.

    Chairman Michael Steele may be intelligent but lets be honest, he was given the position because he is black and that is what the RNC leadership thinks is needed to win votes down the road. I like Gov. Jindal but that too seems like the RNC's second attempt to play towards diversity.

    Can we get past playing the race card and actually find qualified, experienced, non-polarizing people to fill leadership positions within both parties?

    March 2, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. cheryl brooks from cali

    Yea right you wish you were the leader, you're just a stand in.... Rush is the leader and don't you forget it...

    March 2, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. JC

    None of this solves anything what it does is causes a distraction to the real problems facing this country. For far too long we americans have sat on our butts and allowed who was speaking to speak for us. Rush Limbaugh,Karl Rove and Ann Coulter are nothing more that three egomaniacs who have no solutions to our problems all they have are complains if you want to be part of the solution run for office. Other than that please your opinions ring hollow.

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Truth and reality can be ugly

    Ah yes – Rush spews hatred. That is the only response. If he were only as loving as liberals then everyone could have the same opinion and we could do away with all the world's problems. Reality is ugly, truth, can be ugly, just because you don't want to face either does not change the base facts.
    He has rational points based on logic – not always, but often he does. But those points are lost on the irrational, emotional liberals. That was one of the points he makes. Can you even comprehend that?
    Liberals like to spew hate at anyone that does not agree with them.
    Liberal idea promote cruelty, to the poor, to children, to workers, everyone they intend to help. Because their actions are not based in logic, those they try to 'help' continue to suffer the unintended consequences of their meddling...

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. PA Dem

    And too late on Rush simply being an "entertainer". You're stuck with him now! He has a loyal following and he's not going away....just like the folks who still think Obama's not a natural born citizen and want to see the "real" birth certificate.

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. KD


    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Allen

    Socialism is ugly. Partial birth abortion is ugly. Overrun borders are ugly.

    What the left doesn't understand is that we have gone past "we are all Americans" argument. No we are NOT all Americans....Is the left willing to die for their convictions?

    Sorry, guys.....Rush is ugly to the Left. He always has been ugly to the Left and always WILL be ugly to the Left.

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Working American Taxpayer

    Isn't it funny how liberals can say that they support the troops but do not support the war, and expect everyone to understand and support their right to voice their opinion. However, when someone says that they love this country (and only want the best for it ) but dispise the socialist agenda being pushed by the Democrats, it is a high crime against the messiah of liberalism. Give me a break.

    I literally pray ( yep – I am one of those horrible Christian-Conservatives) for our President, but I too hope that his radical and socialist policies fail. He is anti-capitalist and anti-business. His "stimulus" does nothing for the average working person, and his politics go against everything our founding fathers stood for.

    I do not support his gas tax increases, I do not support his income tax increases, I do not support his social healthcare policies, I do not support his "Cap and Trade" policies, I do not support his welfare policies, I do not support his view of unions, and I do not support his "stimulus" package.... So yes, I hope this administration fails.

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. Ray Fisher

    Unfortunately, talk radio is dominated by people saying asty things like Limbaugh, Coulter, Boortz, etc...because people don't listen to nice things and don't realize these folks are merely making a dime off other's fears. They will one day simply dry and blow away like the dog dirt they resemble!!!

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Rayne Williams

    So, if Rush is just 'an entertainer', then that means he shouldn't speak out, right? After all, that's what he's said about Alec Baldwin and George Clooney, that since they are entertainers, they should stick to acting and not politics. Guess that means Rush should follow his own message.

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Kevin in Ohio

    The truth hurts...thats why liberals hate Rush. I have yet heard one thing from a liberal that would contradict his logic. The entire economic crisis is 100% the fault of the Pelosi Congress and Obama.... and don't give me "it was Bush's fault".... the dems whipped up such fear and hatred the last two years to get Obama elected, Bush was powerless. Thank you barney Frank and Chris Dodd for the mess.

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Shades

    I fail to see what's so hard here. Limbaugh makes the point that no democrat wanted President Bush to succeed and in fact went out of their way to ensure he failed. Which they did, let's be honest. Yet Limbaugh as a republican makes a similar though more clearly stated pronouncement against Obama's socialist policies for the U.S. and everyones up in arms!! While you may not like the delivery, does he in fact have a point? Or would you rather name call and refuse to consider the point ?

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. Mo

    Finally, a Republican with balls.

    March 2, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. lyn

    Mr Steele, the leaders of your party is Rush,Rove and Coulter you are nothing as far as they are concern.

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Josh Maloney

    Rush is bringing the Republican Party to its knees. Just keep talking, Rush. You are so constructive. You and Ann Coulter should marry.

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. Dave

    What part of freedom of speech do you O-Bots not understand?

    This country was not built by Socialist Stooges.

    This country is an oak; the Socialists are like mistletoe; they can take over and kill a stately oak, but they'll never be one themselves.

    Rush Limbaugh is a brave man.

    The Idiotocracy will not thrive.

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. ezlife

    dude....if you would take a moment and listen to what Rush stated, you would then understand that he doesn't want our leader to fail. What he wants is that expansion of the central govt through the proposed spending programs will fail and Americans will finally realize that what's best for America will come from local and state leadership. Obviously, you are just another of the many sheep who follow the liberals with not a shred of personal thought or analysis.

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Gary

    Yeah, well the truth is rather ugly at times isn't it? I'm just glad Mr. Limbaugh has the courage to put a mirror up to our current politicians and their ideas and change and show them just how ugly they are.

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Theresa Aulig

    Nobody who can call an innocent child "a dog" should be listen to,
    Shame on all who do!

    Outraged Mother of a 4 year old

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. johnrj08

    If he really is the head of the GOP, Michael Steele needs to ask his fellow Republicans why they honored Limbaugh by giving him the floor and numerous standing ovations for an hour and a half at CPAC. Steele is watching his party being hijacked by a gang of anti-American ideological thugs, with Limbaugh as the self-anointed shot-caller. How that party every allowed a talkshow host with a high school diploma to acquire all the influence and power he has is a question that Steele and responsible Republican leaders need to examine.

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. a REAL American

    Hey "dude of truth"–

    Did you even read Limbaugh's full comment? He wants Obama's policies of destroying capitalism to fail. He never said he wanted "are" (nice grammar, by the way) president to fail at running and protecting the country. Learn to read the entire article, it may help your grammar problems, dude!

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. cnnnewser

    This man is a complete joke!
    Both Steele and Cantor and especially Boehner need to go...pronto!!!
    The republican party has sunk to new lows with their choice of "leaders."

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. Jaime L. Sanyer

    I agree with de RNC chaiman that Limbaugh is a performer, he is performing marvelous for the extreme right that can not accept an african american as President and will do everything possible to take the country to a new great depression to justify their own failures and their own political ambitions

    March 2, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. David in Los Angeles

    The GOP traitors that have run this country into the ground must be severely punished, thieves and crooks need to go to jail.

    March 2, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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