May 1st, 2009
03:27 PM ET
13 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. Bob

    Robin Smith's assertion that it's the Democrats that are undercutting the public trust in our Government, just shows how lost the Republicans are. The low public opinion of Congress due to a virtual complete demonstration of partisanship. President Obama is trying to get some co-operative action, but neither party in Congress is showing any signs of doing that. Those are the sad facts.

    May 1, 2009 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  2. Ain't life strange?

    ....“RNC members, on the whole, are committed individuals who sincerely work for the best of our party...” (Robin Smith)

    That's an obvious statement since they haven't worked for the American people years.

    May 1, 2009 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  3. bcb

    ...welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends!!!!

    May 1, 2009 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  4. Isabelle

    Clearly, Tennessee GOP Chairwoman, Robin Smith, is not interested in bipartisan resolutions. While she stands on the side-lines cheering in her crisp red uniform, her team is running in the wrong direction...scoring yet another point for the blue team.


    May 1, 2009 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  5. tonycerv

    Wow, this is pretty amazing actually. Gingrich, Mr. deep south, arch-conservative himself, backing an RNC chairman who talks in urban slang sometimes and wants Republicans to rethink themselves and be more inclusive. At the same time he bashes the rest of the RNC as being spoiled premadonnas. I wouldn't have seen this coming at all. I doubt Newt's gonna be getting a lot of invites to RNC fundraisers in the near future but good for him, I think.

    May 1, 2009 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  6. Charleston Native

    How long until the Republican party is dissolved? All they really care about is the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

    America will be better off if they all sailed to Mexico.

    May 1, 2009 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  7. Mary Cain

    Now who really cares what Gingrich thinks? MCain

    May 1, 2009 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  8. Larry

    The truth hurts, doesn't it boys

    And if anyone knows the truth about the RNC, it's Newt

    The party of NO have their days numbered ...

    May 1, 2009 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  9. Charlie in Maine

    Here's the thing. Neither party is perfect. I say this as a loyal Democrat, the difference between the two parties is quite clear. Republicans thinj that the government is the problem and work to make it so. Democrats believe that govenment can help and work to make it so. Now since neither party is right all the time in every situation circumstances will always dictate which argument holds sway. The GOP should be praying that Obama's plans work because they will only succeed when the economy recovers and people have incomes that they think the GOP will protect.

    May 1, 2009 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  10. egomaniacs who need to be coddled

    it is a true statement

    but Newt should go further

    Coulture, Rush, O'Rielly, Hannity have all piled on their specific trash to bring the GOP to its current state, an out of touch, mean spirited, stuffed shirt mess that thinks it is their way or the world is going to hell

    I hope the GOP goes down, every time, and I regularly do this, that I have discussions with a Rush listener or other GOP talk show personality listener, I just wonder how this country makes it another day

    May 1, 2009 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  11. Earl

    The RNC and its membership really can't get past the fact that new leadership, a person of color leadership, has become the reality in D.C. What an irrelevant element in politics they have become!!!!

    May 1, 2009 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  12. Jon

    More RNC "infighting" which is caused by someone who isn't even a current politician, much less a member of the RNC. Gingrich, just like Cheney and Rush, do not vote or have any sort of say in the RNC, so why do the actual RNC members even reply to them?

    May 1, 2009 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  13. Pragmatic

    Careful there, Newt. In the GOP, independent thinkers and mavericks will be targeted by the "Purge and Purify" twig (not large enough to be a branch or a shrub) of the Republican Party. They always panic when the truth surfaces.

    May 1, 2009 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  14. truthsayer

    LMAO!!! the Republicans are cluless. You cant have the same ideology from the same old cast of characters like Gingrich, Boehner, McConnell et al, and expect a different result.
    They are doomed to failure because all they know is hate, division and fear mongering.

    May 1, 2009 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  15. Broe

    There we go with the GOP in house fghts. somehow we expected these guys to provide direction to our country.

    May 1, 2009 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  16. George

    Newt and his party is way out of touch. Get out of the 80's and 90's.

    May 1, 2009 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  17. rj

    omg...could anyone who's not a memeber of the k l an look at that mug shot and wish him to be the president? yikes.....he looks better in his she et.

    May 1, 2009 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  18. Desmond

    For once, the "Gingrich who stole Christmas" is right!!

    May 1, 2009 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  19. Gordon Shumway

    The man hit the problems of the Republican Party right on the head. The far right is purely and simply out of touch with reality and needs to be relegated to the most rear back seat of the bus if the bus is ever going to arrive at its' destination. Extremists suck not only in society but in politics as well.

    May 1, 2009 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  20. frayedcat

    This is likely because Steele pushed Specter out by refusing to finance him against Toomey.

    May 1, 2009 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  21. john

    "if your enemy is united divide him" Sun Tzu

    May 1, 2009 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  22. RS

    Why is this washed up has-been getting all this press..don't you have anything else to cover?

    May 1, 2009 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  23. Good for Newt

    The behind the scenes GOP committee has lost control. Their decisions are suspect with the appointment of Steele, who is not polished, not informed, not a strategist, and has done more harm than good. Newt would be better running the party, or maybe Mitt Romney. These guys are savvy, polished, and smart.

    The likes of Robin Smith , Ron Nehring , and Ada Fisher have not done their job – plain and simple. They may be good people but they are ineffective and non existent as spokespeople. Newt is right and the entire GOP needs to be remade. When Rush Limbaugh can openly criticize the GOP standard bearer in John McCain, and Robin Smith , Ron Nehring , and Ada Fisher do not stand up and distance the GOP from Rush, they do a disservice to the millions of GOP moderates who, like myself, are defecting to the middle every day. Newt is right about another thing – a third independent party will emerge and the GOP will become a distant memory in national politics.

    May 1, 2009 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  24. pleased

    Keep this up please . You have to have a certain mentality to be a republican and that is of a 4 year old.

    May 1, 2009 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  25. Dee, NJ

    Newt is Newt! Mr. Steel, tick...tick...tick, you job clock is running down.

    May 1, 2009 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
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