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. Danny in Chicago


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

    Sure you do. Keep telling yourself that. If Obama hadn't won the presidency he wouldn't be RNC chair.

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. David

    Mr. Steele needs to tell Mr. Limbaugh to shut up!

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. R in Maine

    Who the hell are you to think that you are more important that the fat boy? If you cannot deal with reality any better than that, the party will be gone after 2010.

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool

    I for one will never trust the GOP again. They say they are advocates of smaller government, individual privacy and free enterprise. But they are the party that has grown the Government that has put the American taxpayers in trillion dollar debt. The party that spies on our e-mail, cell phones and the books we read. This is the party that wants to shove Christian values down everyone throats. The party who can not approve of same sex marriage because of the Christian belief of it being immoral, or of a woman's right of choice. This is the party that backs prohibition of responsible citizens forcing them to live a life like a criminal. This is the same party that wants to have more gun control.
    What they say and what they do are completely different things in the last forty years; I say never again will I trust this party to be a representative of my rights.
    And everything he says about Rush are true, I believe that was my blog answer to Rush two months ago.

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. JJ in FL

    clash of the titan(ic)s!!! both think they're unsinkable...

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Marcus Shelby

    You gotta love the left (not really) always trying to keep a black conservative man down. One day fellow African-Americans will wake up and see that democrats are still the old party of slavery. They give us blacks welfare and food stamps to chain us and addict us to the democrat plantation.

    When the white man is losing money in the stock market and corporations are going under the black man cannot find a decent job.

    Marcus Shelby

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. 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 |
  9. Billy

    I believe Rush Limbaugh is a sore looser and he needs to keep his fat mouth out of politics if he don't know what he's talking about.

    March 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. pw

    Why is it when Rush Limbaugh tells the truth about different situations they say he makes ugly comments. I am only interested in the truth and god knows we do not hear it from the government and the media. God bless Rush!!!

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. cmoore

    He's a puppet for his party as Obama is a puppet for Pelosi and Reid.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Daisy

    let the crazy Rush Limbaugh continue to speak so that GOP go down to drain.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. kgeukes

    The people that follow Mush Limpnoid have no mind of their own...they are clones of the "No We Won't" generation and they will pay for their ignorance down the line. I have a grandson who has more brains than Mush.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Former Republican

    I left the "Party" because of People like Rush, Coulter, Sean,Fox, and Bill O.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. Elenadia from NY

    LOL, gotta love Rahm Emmanuel. He's driving a wider wedge in the Republican party through naming Rush as the "head" of the Republicans. You go Rahm!

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Lori, Houston Texas

    Let's see, who will the debased Republican base really pay attention to? Their own elected RNC leader who happens to be black? Or a big mouth comedian who happens to be a racist bigoted drug addict and just signed a contract for what...$300Million? My money is the fat white white guy since the 25%ers are mostly racists too.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. bob from canada

    ya right...............all those white folksa are taking their marching orders from this bozo.......ya right........that's like telling me bush ran the show........when we all know it was cheney.....maybe he should rap himself a real job.......what an idiot for him to think we are going to believe that bulls*it

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. VP

    It is a joke.
    Dont kid yourself Mr Steele, you are at best 4th in the list after Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. Dottie

    Well, I'll give credit to Steele for an making attempt to stand up to LimRush since all the other Repubs are to chicken to do it.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. MW in CA

    Steele just hasn't figured it out yet that him and Jindal are just window dressing to the GOP. Rush, Hannity, Tom Delay the cream of the white supremesy in the GOP set the tone and standards. Lets not leave out our brother extremists of the religous right wing fringe either.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. greg in jax

    i just love every opportunity to remind rush and his blind sheep followers what he really is..

    a hypocritical drug addict.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. Splurge

    Uh-oh, I sense charges of racisim coming on.....

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  23. Justin

    Rush Limbaugh said "Do you know that President Obama, in six weeks of his administration, has proposed more spending than from the founding of the country to his inauguration." This is not true. In fact, the stimulus package, which is 787 billion, is less than the US spent in Iraq and Afghanistan alone in the last 7 years (it's 864 billion and counting, according to a Congressional Research Service report).

    I point this out for two reasons: first, after Limbaugh said it, house minority whip Eric Cantor began repeating it. Second, I have yet to hear Eric Cantor or any Republican readily adopt anything Michael Steele has said. Certainly nothing so quickly. Again – it is totally false. It is not remotely based in even the slightest bit of reality. And yet, a top Republican has taken the statement and run with it.

    The irony here is that Cantor should know better. Having been in Congress since 2001, he voted for the 864 billion spent in Iraq alone. He voted for the rest of the trillions of dollars Bush has spent over the past eight years. And he presumably read the report that said we've spent 864 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan, because it was prepared for members of Congress like him.

    Sorry Mr. Steele. You're not good enough to lead the Republican party. Sure, your election was reactionary, just like when the GOP moved Alan Keyes to Illinois to run against Barack Obama in 2004. But you are just a token gesture. The real leader is the fat, drug-addled trust fund baby who failed out of community college: Rush Limbaugh.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. todd

    I swear a few years ago I remember that it was unpatriotic to not support the president? I guess now its unpatriotic to support the president? I get so cunfussed by what my masters ( the GOP) dictate for me to say and believe. All I know is that the most important thing is that rich people keep getting richer. They are the ones that really mater in this country. Us working people will continue to carry the burden for you as long as you keep touting our religous views. Please don't pay your fair share in taxes if that means that you might have to fire a few people, insteaad of not taking that third vacation this year. We know you need to have that 5th car so we understand that if you have to pay any more in taxes you will have fire people so you can still get that 5th car or pay that 3rd mortgage. So lets make sure that the rich keep getting richer, God bless the Republican party!

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. VCC

    Steele is just a figure head for the RNC because they lost to an African American this election. He will not keep this post long. Repubs cannot fanthom any one of color leading them.

    March 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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