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. Thaleena

    Ugly is a better word to describe the of Obama and the Democrats. Ugly is a better word to describe the current face of this country, and the face of those who hate this country. Who cares what Rush limbaugh says????? I don't see people whining about ugly Keith Oblerman or Chrissy Matthews.

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

    Rush Limbaugh, the Rosie O'Donnell for angry white men.

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. disgusted

    Yes Mark. Limbaugh is wrong. God gave you a brain. Use it.

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Cliff

    Finally, the true colors of the Republican Party have come out. Rush and Coulter may not be the actual administrative leaders, but they certainly speak the party's mind. They would rather see America FAIL than flourish under Obama's leadership.

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. andy

    Rita, you are a disgrace to all bloggers

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. JOE

    Lush would look a lot better on a spit rotating over and open fire with a "BIG" apple in his mouth..

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |

    Mr Steele, sorry but Rush, Hannity and this Payuish(probably not spelled correct) "Bobby" Jindal are the future of the GOP and business will continue as it is now for your party. The Good Ol Boy group dictate what and who will be the spokesperson for your party. They tried this guy who is ashamed of his birth name so calls himself "Bobby" Jindal to give the Republican response to President (proud of his name) Barack Obama's speech and well let's just say talking about a puppet didn't do so well. What about Palin/Payuish in 2012?

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. John, Georgia

    M.Steel will soon realize that GOP get their "NO and FAILURE" from those radio talk shows.
    He must to know that he is not OBAMA because he was pushed to the top by republicans as REACTION or sign of desparation to OBAMA' election.

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. gerry

    I wonder if Steele got permission from Limbaugh to talk like this?

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. SteveO

    I continue to be amused by the Rush and his sheep. I hope he and his ilk continue to dominate the Republican party, his foolish and failed ideas till make the reelection of President Obama a certainy.

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. Julie

    In response to ....the dude of truth March 2nd, 2009 12:22 pm ET

    Admittedly, rush is a fool, but even bigger fools are those that listen to him and actually believe the nonsense that he spews. You have to question the mentality of those that take his word as gospel truth.

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. teniishaw

    face it steele, limbaugh is the leader of this radical party known as the republicans. every word he says they applaud, everyone that speaks against him, the radical party gets upset with............look at their big face leader, he looks just like a pig.....oink oink!!!!

    you mr. steele is the uncle tom representative of this party, you do not lead them. you are being used, wait and see how angry they will be with you for speaking out against their leader. you fail and so does this disgusting party.

    March 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  13. Chris in Baltimore


    Of course you're right...and not only that, but we also know that Obama wasn't even born in this country, is actually a Manchurian Muslim that's about to order a proclamation to make us all wear Burkahs, took the oath of office on the Koran, and is a homosexual coke head who never actually graduated from college.

    Everyone else in this country are just ignorant sheeple except for enlightened folks like you and me. I know you're stocking up on the canned goods and ammo for when the revolution comes!

    March 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. rob c

    Mr Steele is the only one who thinks he is in charge. It pains me to see people who seem to be good role models for young minorities let themselves be used so the GOP can find a darkskinned face to put up against President Obama. Steele and Jindahl are worse than Uncle Tom. Both should have more than enough reasons to want to make this country work for the people from teir life experienced, but they are using their power to help promote the policies that have taken away from the people for the past 30 yrs.

    March 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. Jim Hall

    We were republicans but never voted for the village idiot that just left the White House nor the village that lost the election that wanted in the White House to replace him. The party has gone to h–l in a hand basket. It needs to be moderate like most Americans. The republican party is racist, biggited, for the wealthy only, supports the religious fanatics, and the list goes on and on. Anybody that listens to Limbaugh or what ever his name is is also a village idiot Jim Hall Kansas City Missouri.

    March 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  16. mw

    Rush is your main man. Coulter your main gal. Rove your main lean on.
    The Republican party is hated in large part due to the people you all worship. All repugs are out of touch. How can they relate to the "Sam's Club bunch' (condescending statement of some repug politico), when they are all in bed with the Country Club Bunch. Pure bull crap is all you all spew.
    WE voted for President Obama, and shame on you for not doing the same. I bet you have friends and family really pissed with you. WE support him and WE will help him succeed. You just hang in there with the losers you like to rub elbows with. But you would be smarter to join the rest of us who are hopeful, supportive, and don't need a status symbol. WE prefer intelligence, forward thinking, progressive doers-not talkers, wannabee standups, and old tired rhetoric. You just do whatever blows your skirt up.

    March 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. High Achievers

    Rush LImbaugh is the brain behind the republican's party. He is the man , thinker and the life line for the republican's party. I used to think republican party was the party of the smart and high achievers. NOT ANY MORE.

    March 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. virginia nielsen

    These stupid right wing people sound like Bin Laden... extremely radicals, totally anti-american and like the extremists, they don't offer any solutions or suggestions... only bomb, bomb, bomb !!! What a bunch of jerks !!!
    OBAMA 2012 !!!

    March 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. david,baltimore,mamryland

    Why doesnt Limberger run for public office? So his rant could be exposed for what it is ! Any party that has to answer and genuflect to that addle brained oath will not be a party in this country very much longer.Good riddance republicans.

    March 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. Chess

    I listen RL's speech on Saturday via C-SPAN. He said that "liberty" is being taken away from hard working Americans. Yet no one from the Repulican party has questioned the many fail Bush policy's like Iraq.

    4000 Americans killed because of one lie. Shame on the GOP. The blood is on your hands. No plane ever hit the Pentagon!!!

    March 2, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. HSNP

    Rush Limbaugh is a hate filled gasbag. His rabid rantings inflame the insecurities of those Republicans who have very limited intellect. It's just shocking that there are so many of them.

    March 2, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Craig from Mn

    It's the economy stupid. And from what I can see, the Dems have screwed it up bad. Remember who has been in power now since the stock market has fallen. Who pushed mortgages that could not be repaid? (Barney and his clown friend Dodd!).
    Now I hear a "study" (offered up by Conyers) is being pushed to consider reparations for African Americans. Sure let's throw them a few trillion. It won't be worth anything after all the other wasteful spending.

    March 2, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. minnie

    I'm glad someone is standing up to the Conservative Hate Movement.

    March 2, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. Ker

    what cave have you been living in?

    March 2, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    the dude of truth

    what a joke, you obviously have never listened to rush, nor know anything more than what you were told to think by cnn, msnbs, cbs, et al. try actually listening to him before proving your ignorance. try looking things up using more than once source instead of your intellectually lazy kool aid drinking from the main stream media. it's freaking sad that those who call others hateful are the ones that promote hate the most

    March 2, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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