[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/02/gop.steele.limbaugh/art.michaelsteelemd.gi.jpg caption="Rush will say what Rush has to say; we'll do what we have to do, RNC Chairman Michael Steele has said."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Over the weekend, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele called Rush Limbaugh's rhetoric "incendiary" and "ugly" and insisted that he, not Limbaugh, is in charge of the GOP.
But that was two days ago. Monday, after a blistering response from the conservative talk-radio kingpin, Steele told the online journal Politico that he "was maybe a little bit inarticulate."
"There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership," Steele said. He added, "There are those out there who want to look at what he's saying as incendiary and divisive and ugly. That's what I was trying to say. It didn't come out that way."
Steele's original remarks came from an interview on CNN's "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," which aired Saturday. They came as Democrats, including White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, have tried to paint Limbaugh - who has said he wants to see the Obama administration "fail" - as the effective head of the opposition party.
Steele rejected the idea, saying, "I'm the de facto leader of the Republican Party."
"Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment," Steele told CNN. "Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly."