March 9th, 2009
02:58 PM ET
13 years ago

Steele adviser on GOP naysayers: 'The empire has struck back'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Steele's recent interviews have drawn concern from rank-and-file Republicans."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - A top adviser to Michael Steele said Monday the Republican National Committee chairman may have "made some missteps in a few media appearances" recently - but accused his GOP rivals of "lying in wait, hoping he would stumble, so they could pounce."

"Over the past week, new RNC Chairman Michael Steele has walked through the fire, or more accurately, through a shooting gallery inside the Beltway," said Curt Anderson in a Politico op-ed. "To be clear, some of this was self-inflicted. As the chairman has said, he made some missteps in a few media appearances. Live and learn. ..."

He said Steele's massive overhaul of RNC operations, which included a standard call for mass resignations, was necessary for a party that has "been out-gunned, out-worked and 'out-technologied.'

"The chairman promised to clean house at the RNC if he won. He did, and he did," said Anderson. "This has led to some serious griping inside the Beltway. Many were lying in wait, hoping he would stumble, so they could pounce. He did, and they did."

Steele's recent interviews - including a headline-grabbing pledge to bring the GOP to "urban and suburban hip-hop settings," and a comment that appeared to criticize conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh - have drawn concern from rank-and-file Republicans. Last week, Ada Fisher - one of the committee's few black members, who supported Steele rival Katon Dawson in the race for chairman - publicly called on the party's new leader to step down.

Anderson defended Steele's strategy, pointing to a recently-completed round of forensic audits of each division of the RNC designed to increase competitiveness heading into the 2010 campaign cycle.

The Steele aide added that "many feel threatened by" the change the party's new chairman represents: "Steeleā€™s election as chairman of the Republican Party was a shock to the system for many of the Republican ruling class, the old guard in Washington," he said. "Over the past week, countless anonymous sources have brought out the long knives. Indeed, over the past week, the empire has struck back."

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