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. Jon

    It's about time that fat turd was flushed

    March 2, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. david

    maybe rush has taken too many viagra pills and they have made him delusional

    March 2, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. RW

    Steele may be better off joining the Democrats. Fact is, Limbaugh stands firm behind his beliefs. Of course the liberals hate him...THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO HATE HIM!! People who scream about Limbaugh take snippits from the liberal media outlets and comment without reviewing everything he said. If our leader was promoting an agenda of socialism, would you want him to fail or succeed? It's a simple question...regardless of politics.

    March 2, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. DeeTee

    Steele (and Jindal's) reality checks are in the mail. They just don't know it yet!

    March 2, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. KMAN

    @rita ... YOUR imaginary GOP god doesn't exist! If your god backs RL ... then he isn't worth squat.

    March 2, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. Dee

    Calling Rush Limbaugh the leader of the Republican Party would be like calling Al Franken the leader of the Democratic Party – both are loud-mouthed windbags who BOTH are skilled entertainers but NEITHER remotely resembles an elected official with policy responsibilities.

    Oh wait, I think I may have forgotten about something going on in Minnesota...

    March 2, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Matt

    Obama is nothing more than Pelosi's pet dog. The state of the Union was a disgrace. Her bouncing up like a chipper little squirel clapping at her new dogs tricks. And poor Joe Biden was busy texting and snoozing through most of it. I quess they forgot that we can see them and what they are doing right behind Barack.

    Thanks for the lousy change liberal sheep.

    March 2, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. shell

    M. Steele is just a dark skin person in place for the GOP, Rush, Bill, Ann or Adam and Sean have taken this to another level now. Not because he a Dem but it is Mr. President color

    March 2, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. Don

    The GnoP turns to it's true leaders in a real time of need. Who closed the CPAC convention?

    March 2, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Tim

    This country is based upon capitalism and individual liberty. We are not a socialistic government but the democrats are always pushing for those types of programs. Welfare for example, is now a huge, out of control percentage of our national budget. States providing such welfare are going broke or are already broke. Does anybody get this?

    "Tough love" should be set by the federal government and make it very hard to get any benefits. No rewarding for bad behavior such as over weight, alcoholics, druggies, single mom's who have never been married having babies we pay for etc..

    March 2, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. bill

    huh? am i missing something? did the republicans not just get destroyed in a presidential election? did the american people not make very clear that theyve realized republicans are mostly just selfish monsters stuck on stupidity like religion and gun control while citizens starve to death?

    March 2, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Sister Temperance

    Rush Limbaugh? My word. Is he still alive? Please pardon the metaphor, but I've always considered him to be a pimple of the hind end of America, and am always amazed that anyone even listens to him. I suppose there are always the harbingers of doom and gloom no matter where you go. I certainly wouldn't depend on anything he says. He's proven himself too untrustworthy to be anyone's mouthpiece.

    March 2, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. unsympathetic

    being the leader of the GOP is like being a lady...if you have to say that you are one, you aren't....

    March 2, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. California Gold

    Steele wouldn't have to claim he leads the party if the GOP did not give Limbaugh, Coulter, Rove et al such a large voice.

    March 2, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. JDL

    I actually feel sorry for Steele because he's supposed to be chairman of the RNC, but Limbaugh and Coulter are so OUT there with their "acts" that nobody really pays attention to what he has to say. I DO believe that he was a token pick, even though he must be a very intelligent man.
    Limbaugh talks about President Obama spreading fear!? He has his nerve. He and the GOP had their entire republican base believing that Obama was an Arab Muslim terrorist who was probably going to eat their babies and I-don't-know-what-all.

    March 2, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. Proud American

    What a complete bunch of Idiots. I think the moron Rush is using again. God help the republican party.

    March 2, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. paul oregon

    i suppose the next thing steele will be telling us he is the good tooth fairy. lol
    if the repubs. wanted to be taken serious . why dont they call for a special election inmay 2009 on term limits , pay roll limits. pension
    limits on all convected policians. instead of fear mongering.

    March 2, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. US Citizen

    Limbaugh is a Republican, doctor-shopping drug addict, not an entertainer. Anyone who listens to him is a fool.

    March 2, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. GBO

    No you are not the repug leader...It's Rush...and we all know it.

    March 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Michele Bachmann "We're running out of rich people!"

    ….GOD will get him and all the others that want to destroy this country….god bless rush for standing up to his principles. oh yes, im sure i will not "approved" for posting. review me all you want.


    Rita ... God has nothing to do with this. There you go and hide behind GOD to say pretty much that you hate Obama.

    March 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Synn

    The GOP is coming back bigger and stronger, which was evidenced by the enormous record breaking attendance of this years cpac.
    Have no fear, fellow gop'ers, the Dems will only be allowed to practice their failed policies until 2012. Hopefully they wont have done too much damage when we take the White House back! =)
    The conservative values always win out in the end, because that is what America is all about!

    March 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. USA in Denial (Nation of Cowards)

    I am going to say it.... (*putting on flame proof suit*). There is still a LOT of racist attitudes in this country towards African-Americans and other minorities, and it is not political party exclusive.

    This is so sad! The "leader" of the GOP is now being undermined by a racist radio talk show host and our President is being undermined by his own party. This economy has brought out the very worst in some people. When will we all grow up and stop being afraid of each other? Stop being afraid and embrace the change in this country. Because if you don’t you will be left behind…

    March 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. Paul

    The leader of the party is whoever the people listen to. Rush has 20 million listeners, far more than Steele or any elected official. Rush's words are indeed 'ugly', and so are the hearts and minds of his followers.

    March 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. KirksNoseHair

    I wonder how many OxyContin Rush took today?

    March 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Allen Hussein

    Hey Rush! Are you going to stand for this?

    (I love it when rightards eat their own)

    March 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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