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. Leslie

    Poor Chairman Steele. No one listens to him.
    Let Limbaugh and Coulter rant. Partisan politics are so yesterday and they are attention-getting has-beens. Let's get on with putting the country back on track and let the Grand OLD Party rant amongst each other. That's just about all they can do at this point.

    March 2, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. Andrew

    How convenient.

    March 2, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Pat - Huntington

    He'll end up eating those words. Yep, he'll be kissing Rushie's butt tomorrow.

    March 2, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. Repub Redux

    Something tells me that, as good for the country as the election of Barack Obama has been, it will push this fringe faction to be more and more incendiary, more pugilistic and ugly and divisive. And our economic situation is getting worse. If history tells us anything, it is that mouths like Limbaugh's and Coulter's do not only spew hate, they CREATE hate in the minds of millions. They are a dangerous, pernicious force in this country and must be opposed by all means. In truth, Rush Limbaugh may be the most vocal anti-American out there–which is why it is so ironic that he likes to point the finger and call so many people unpatriotic and anti-American. What a hypocritical pig.

    March 2, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Hopester

    I'm not sure what Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are about but they seem to be against our democracy. It seems they won't be happy unless they have a one party system.This seems a little dangerous,maybe they both should be put on a terrorist watch list. He has openly against our government and our President. Maybe Communist China would be a better fit for the two of them.

    March 2, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. David

    Rush Limbaugh: A pig WITHOUT lipstick

    March 2, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Judy

    Steele will end up apologizing to Rush over these comments. I predict the apology will come before the end of the week. The Republicans can't attack President Obama and Rush at the same time. Who will they choose?

    March 2, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Ryan Wing

    As soon as Steele is pumping up the Conservative PAC and Republican senators are following lock step with what he says the way they do with Limbaugh, I'll believe it.

    Until then, the Republican politicians are all ditto heads.

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  9. chelle

    Wow – he'll be out of the job soon... No conservative can dis Limbaugh and get away with it. The GOP has lost all grip on reality and is being led around by "entertainers" and cares not what happens to the US, only what happens to the GOP.

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. Stamford Yankee

    If Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the GOP, the Dems have nothing to worry about ... LOL.

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. Tom G.

    If Mr. Steele truly thinks that Mr. Limbaugh is just "an entertainer", then he he needs to go back to school. May I recommend the Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies? I'll tell you, I am not a racist, but from what I have seen of the current crop of "African-American Politicians" (including Steele, Obama, Rangel, et al), I really have to wonder about them.

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. Really?

    i agree more with Rahm Emanuel when he says that Limbaugh is the leader of the GOP more people listen to Limbaugh than they do Steele and Limbaugh and O'Reilly seem to have more power to make Republican's do what they want than does Steele

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Limbaugh is a cancer on free speech. He is guilty of yelling "fire" in an overcrowded society.

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. mr scott

    Who's in charge?????????????


    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. Lush Limprick is the HEAD of the Republican NAZI Committee!

    Does the token black for chairman actually believe he is running the show? Neo-cons are running the show and the keynote speaker was the bald bonehead, therefore, the Lush is indeed the real spokesperson.

    Until repubs realize the President Obama is a force to be reckoned with, they will continue to remain in the wilderness.

    All they do is counter him with useless rhetoric we have heard for 8 years, "tax breaks", and card board cut-outs of one dimensional candidates. First it was the half-wit who lost, then the token black guy and his "off the hook" campaign to bring the White Supremacist to the "hip hop crowd" and then they trot out a goofy version of Alfred E. Neumann with a tan to rebut the President's speech. Which was so bad the bald, bloated bonehead is threatening a revolt if neo-cons do not fall in love with the Louisiana Loser.

    And Steele thinks he is running the show? Did Gringey(SP?) apologize to Steele or Limbaugh? Limbaugh.

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Ken

    If Steele is suppose to be the "leader" of the party then he should get off is kiester and lead instead of complain about Rush. The republicans are worthless right now and will continue to be with out someone like Rush to build a fire under them and the rest of the country.

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. greg in jax

    "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."

    of course, its all about the money for rush.. he doesnt care about republicans or conservatives, he just knows that progressives, liberals and democrats can sense a lying pig when they see one and will call him out on it, but the blind sheep will believe anything and everything the hypocritical drug addict has to say.. baaah baaah baaaaaah.. go the blind sheep!

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. Brian

    Party chairs on either side of the isle are figureheads. They lead an organization, they don't lead a movement. Steele's comments show weakness, a desire to play nice with people with no desire to extend the same courtesy.

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Sandra

    Since when is honesty and calling on all people to do their part inciting fear?

    What is the "terror alert" we live with day to day? Oh, today's "orange" - I better not go out...

    March 2, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. Virginia Blue Veterans

    Hah, I love it. This is a fantastic early Christmas gift. The GOP's big elephant in the room is Limbaugh.

    Good luck GOP, having that egotistical, hypocritical gas bag as your main rep.

    LOVE IT!

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Wake-me-when-it's-over

    I am grateful for Republican rationality, reason, and Rush. Rush may be over the top, far from ordinary, and overly enthusiastic in his attacks on the Obama machine, but he has influence. That influence, coupled with the Republican determination and endurance, will turn us back into a nation that we can be proud of. 2010 can't get here soon enough.

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. Steve

    Michael Steel must continue to put Limbaugh's and others Coulter, Hannity, etc., statements in perspective if the Republican Party has any chance of winning back moderate republicans. The mean spirited or "ugly" approach is way off base. The Limbaugh rhetoric will only help to scare people away, unless you accept his remarks as entertainment.

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. Where is the OUTRAGE when in 2001 GW BUSH gave 1.35 trillion dollars in TAX CUT to the RICH & CORPORATE AMERICA

    The republiKLANS are begining to grow some BALL$$ to shut up this BIG FROGGY pie hole...but there is more to be seen if they can challenge their leader RUSHIE THE DRUGGIE to a duel!!!!

    let the power tussle we all sit back and watch the Grand Obstructionist Part self-destruct! lol!!!!!

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. Floyd in New York

    Sorry Liberal Democrats but much to your dismay the Republican party is alive and well! Get ready for a drubbing in the 2010 mid-term elections and beyond! Just a historical political cycle fact!!

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    I would like to share the following:

    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

    No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Material wealth regarded as having an evil influence.) Matthew 6: 19-24

    Rush, Coulter, Hannity etc.. can say what they would like, but the only ture word is God's word. President Obama is a Man of God and when God is for You, who can be against you? God can do anything but fail. As to Ms. Coulter, no President Obama is not Jesus, he is just a solider in the army for the Lord – perhaps you will get that by midnight!

    Our country needs to turn to God for he is the way, the truth and the light!!

    God Bless & Peace.

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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