May 1st, 2009
03:27 PM ET
14 years ago

Gingrich insult rankles RNC members

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Gingrich said Thursday that RNC members think they are 'precious.'"]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Several members of the Republican National Committee are miffed at Newt Gingrich for claiming that they’re a small bunch of egomaniacs who need to be coddled by the party chairman.

“Newt needs to take a breath,” New Jersey committeeman David Norcross told CNN.

Gingrich made the assertion on C-SPAN Thursday when asked about a new resolution put forth by some veteran members - including Norcross and RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen of Arizona - that would limit chairman Michael Steele’s ability to control how the committee spends its money.

That resolution has sparked a fresh round of infighting between Steele loyalists on the committee and entrenched members who backed other candidates for the chairmanship and remain skeptical of his leadership.

Defending Steele’s tumultuous start, Gingrich said the chairman might be under fire from some in the committee because he “probably has not yet learned the art of massaging the egos of RNC members.”

“They all think they’re precious, and they all think they should be taken care of, and they all think the job of the chairman, first of all, is to make the RNC members happy,” Gingrich said of the committee’s 168 members.

Tennessee GOP chairwoman Robin Smith objected to that suggestion, saying that “RNC members, on the whole, are committed individuals who sincerely work for the best of our party.”

“Forming circular firing squads only gives aid to the Democrats who are doing quite nicely in undercutting the public trust in our government,” Smith said.

Ada Fisher, committeewoman from North Carolina, said RNC members are not “as ego driven as some professional politicians and pundits would like to believe.”

“Most of us are not receiving large sums from being on television, serving as commentators, giving speeches or writing books, nor do we devote our waking hours to playing politics,” Fisher said in a thinly veiled jab at Gingrich.

Another committee member called the former Speaker’s remarks a “gross generalization.”

But other RNC members sympathetic to Steele sided with Gingrich and defended the chairman’s three-month tenure at the party helm. Steele backers said the new chairman is engaging with state parties and grassroots activists in ways not seen since the GOP was last out of power during the Clinton administration.

California GOP chairman Ron Nehring boasted that the RNC under Steele “is about partnerships with the states, and that’s good news for everyone.”

“Newt is right that RNC members believe they are ‘precious,’” said California committee member Shawn Steel. “However, Michael is more popular than ever. He communicates much more frequently than the prior chair."

North Carolina Republican party chair Linda Daves, who backed South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson during the race for the RNC chairmanship, knocked the members who are now pushing the resolution to regulate Steele’s financial powers.

“I think some of the members should spend more time trying to build the party on the state level and spend less time trying to micromanage the RNC and trying to tear down Michael Steele,” Daves said.

Norcross argued that the good governance resolution is only being proposed to fill the vacuum left by the retirement of veteran RNC comptroller Jay Banning, who was let go by the committee last month after more than 30 years. He said that oversight of the chairman’s purse strings by the committee is nothing new.

“Newt ought to get his facts right,” Norcross said. “My ego does not need to be taken care of, but my Treasurer does.”

A spokesman for the RNC did not respond to a request for comment about Gingrich’s C-SPAN appearance.

Filed under: Michael Steele • Newt Gingrich • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. Simmy

    Fair is Fair,

    Please spare me your drama - They said that about SOS Clinton and McCain (Townhall Mtgs. were his strong suit). President Obama defeated both......Whatever you have in that juice you're drinking is causing delusions.....No amount of hate and or dissent will deter my president from victory.....Love more, hate less....Peace....

    May 1, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. Anne

    Finally, the truth is out. The only one's they care about are themselves. In fact it is so evident that they don't even care that much about each other. It really is the party of one. They are pointing to the undercutting of public trust in the government!! What planet are they on? If they pulled their head out of their arses long enough they would see how great a contrast there is between the deteriorating public view of the Republican party and the immense popularity of the President. They are precious alright, a precious waste of time

    May 1, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    As a republican I welcome newts comments. The republican party has not represented republicans for years. I think the dem party has done the same thing. I think that in the next 20-30 years we will see this be made much more clear.
    The majority in this country do not walk a party line. Most Americans hold views from both sides. If you voted for Obama chances are some of the things he has done don't make you happy other things he has done you may think are great. I didn't vote for Obama but I have been happy with some of the choices he has made.
    Just look at the cr ap on this blog. If this country can't stop this bickering we will never have a government for the people again. They will just use the divide to get elected. We need to take back our govt. reduce its size and its reach. The sad part is that the constitution states what the government can govern the rest is left to the people, but today everyone wants to control the population. We are in for a overbearing government If we don't act soon.

    May 1, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. Qui-Tam Relator

    WOW, he's starting to look like Dick Cheney ! These two guys must be related some how ! ?????????????????????????????

    May 1, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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