August 5th, 2009
04:07 PM ET
13 years ago

Steele denies RNC role in town hall protests

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele defended the GOP's decision to automatically re-direct angry liberal callers to the Democratic National Committee Wednesday, telling reporters he "thought it was a good idea."

"Don't think you're going to direct a bunch of angry liberals to call the RNC when I know full well what that's all about," Steele said during an RNC conference call. "I get....the joke." He said he thought those critics should talk to their own party, who held responsible for "ginning this up."

Earlier in the day, a new DNC Web ad accused the Republican Party of "inciting mobs" to deliberately disrupt congressional town hall meetings where the Obama health care plan was being discussed, and asked viewers to call the RNC to register their disapproval. The RNC changed their phone menu so that those callers were directed to press a button that automatically transferred their call to the DNC.

Steele dismissed questions over whether the GOP move to deflect critical calls was hypocritical in light of recent criticism of Democrats for "demonizing" the town hall protestors, and denied the Republican Party had any role in organizing the confrontations.

"We're not inciting anyone to go out and disrupt anything," said Steele. "We're not organizing the town halls," only encouraging individuals to visit their congressman or senator to "express their point of view."

"There's no upside for the Republican Party [in the protests]," he said later in the call. "That's not something that's coordinated or deliberately set in motion by me or anyone in the state party.

"...To sit back and say this is a Republican cabal is a bunch of baloney. And you can substitute that 'b' for something else if you want."

Later, a frustrated Steele shot down another question about the GOP's view of the recent chaos at congressional town halls. "I'll speak slowly. There's legitimacy to the protest. But how people protest…. I have no control over."

He added that there was nothing unusual about the development, and that he did not understand why the face-offs were drawing media attention. "Why is it so out of the ordinary that the American people should stand up and say, 'I have a concern about something the government is going to do?'

"… I'm not telling people to go out and be disruptive, because there's no upside to doing that. We want to have a legitimate debate…there's no upside for us in starting a fight with the Democratic Party, or with elected officials that we disagree with."

Filed under: Michael Steele
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Michele Westminster, CO

    LIAR LIAR......your mama should wash your mouth out with soap!!!

    August 5, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. Dallas, Texas

    Steele is flat out lying. The gop should be ashamed and the American public will not stand for these lies from republicans anymore. They are killing this country with thier partisan politics.

    August 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. Proud Member..Party of No

    This arrogant administration just can't believe that the people are opposed to their idiotic ideas. Hey Barry, there isn't much standing between you and the people with the pitchforks.

    August 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. talmag

    I find it interesting when gutless Mr. Steele says the republicans are not behind this when Shawn Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have been talking about nothing else. They have been firing up this action for weeks and friends of mine have been trying to get me to join them through e-mails. What a joke this party is. Do they think we are all stupid ? What saddens me is that they do rile up the public by giving out mis-information, twisted truths, far of losing their health care and their own opinions with no rebuttal from anyone. How are they to know the other side if no one speaks for President Obama. The have a pulpit for hours with no one to say when they are not telling the truth. How is that called non biased. The only t.v. station that is non bias is CNN and Charlie Gibson .

    August 5, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. jonnierae

    Why won't CNN run the pro health care ads????? You are showing yourself to be just another Fox news. No wonder your ratings are dropping. I don't watch Cnn anymore. Too bad because I like Anderson Cooper, but you are bought and paid for obviously by those pharma ads you run continually. Shame on you. I hope Anderson and Jack Cafferty move to MSNBC.

    August 5, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  6. Moderate Democrat

    You can tell when a republican lies. Their mouth moves.

    August 5, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  7. Willy Brown

    Awl poor democrats hate having people laughing at them.

    August 5, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  8. Moderate Democrat

    Republicans are total hypocrites. They cry and whine that they aren't being listened to....but when people call to tell them their point of view....they hang up on them.

    From here on out, by the GOP's absolute condolence and embrace of the practice: it's ok to completely ignore anything and EVERYTHING that republicans want. They are incapable of acting like adults, so send the kids to the corner and let the grown ups with a functioning brain do the decision making.

    August 5, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. KG, Twin Cities

    I work for the largest health insurance corporation in America. I CANNOT afford to go to the Dr. We need healthcare reform now.

    August 5, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  10. Bluskys

    What a looser Steel is .Enough said

    August 5, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  11. Chris from NY

    JEALOUSY THEY SAY IS THE ROOT OF HATRED. This guy can't seem to accept the fact that Obama is the President of this country and doing well at it too. He opens his mouth and nothing falls off of it than words he never even evaluates before speaking.

    The media has already said that the guy that shot people in Pittsburg was full of hatred. It appears Republicans through their rhetorics are willing to produce more of home terrorists than help the President solve problems facing American people.

    August 5, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  12. Just Me

    Steele is more than half-right, the RNC proper couldn't organize its way out of a wet paper bag right now. But their "conservative movement" allies openly brag about their astroturfing at health care events. Disgusting, but that's the reality of modern American politics.

    August 5, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  13. CONNIE

    Doesn't anyone give the American people credit for having a brain and using it. This is not a Republican or Democrat problem here this is an American problem. People are getting tired of all this bullcrap in the government and are now expressing it. They are mad at both parties and the President. Congress needs to wake up and listen to us the Americans at what we are saying and quit blaming it on the RNC or DNC its both. To me the only reason i see the Dems want this health care pass is for votes in 2010 so they can brag about how they got the health care done whether it is right or wrong it just gives them bragging power and that is not what we want. Stop being in an hurry listen to each sides or else we will vote you out. We are Mad and we aren't taking anymore Congress.

    August 5, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  14. Don

    This is the Republican party at it's best, once again trying to impose
    their views to stall any progress on an issue the is impacting middle class America. As usual they are using the fear card of "socialism" to re direct public opinion from the real issue while offering no solutions of their own.

    This is going to backfire and we can through out the rest of the corporate representatives in Congress at the 2010 elections.

    Do what is best for the majority of your countrymen and women not the health care industry who are supporting your election. Try to remeber you were elected to support "We the people"!

    August 5, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. Jim

    I'm not buying that the Republicans aren't involved in the disruption efforts. If that is so, then they should condemn the town hall disruptions. Its one thing to ask questions, its another to shout down the speakers.

    August 5, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  16. DX in TX

    Steele is a coward and a liar!

    August 5, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  17. Pete Long

    I completely agree with Michael Steele's strategy and any one that does not is a racist!

    August 5, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  18. Gary

    Poor ignorant fool

    August 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  19. Kathy

    ? I don't think Steele is telling the truth. Big Surprise.

    August 5, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  20. I'll make 'em famous

    Georges W BUSH spent thrillions a day in Iraq and those right-wing sheeps here are complaining about OBAMA spending 'the people's wealth'..??? MakesNO sense

    August 5, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
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