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. Frank, Las Vegas

    Steele = just more LIES from the GOP, RNC and of course the leader of the republican group, Rush.

    August 5, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. TRUTH

    the gop is dead thanks to bush/heney ,palin, GO DEMS

    August 5, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. Patty

    Hello Michael Steele.............You are just a tool being used by the GOP. Wake up and smell the coffee. You have no power.

    August 5, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. DiBiase/Bad Newz, VA

    Michael Steele is a puppet. I'm sure his constituency in Maryland want and definitely need healthcare reform.

    August 5, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Susan

    I respect everyone's opinion and their right to voice their concerns, BUT, I really am angry with these "protesters" who are disrupting these town halls. If they wish to express themselves or their opinion in a civilized manner–go for it. But for those of us who attend a town hall meeting to either ask questions or get information–these people who state that they are so concerned about the wellbeing of others–well, you are taking away my right to listen.

    August 5, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. Bluebonnet

    Dimwitted Dems are running scared – why else these beyond stupid acusations! I've never heard of such bull crap in my life. I live in a humongous city and have NEVER heard anyone tell me or other people within my hearing range, to go protest Obamacare. I am protesting it solely on my own but I'm not doing anything but stewing about it. I'm not joining a tea party to do so. BUT, if I wanted to, the RNC certainly didn't have to tell me to. The DNC must think its party members are terribly stupid if they believe this.

    August 5, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. Grace

    Isn't Steele's and the RNC "Pinnochio? LOL. Enough said.

    Both the RNC and the GOP is playing with FIRE. Republicans are going to rue the day they incited these mob protests when someone gets OUT OF CONTROL and SERIOUSLY HURTS an innocent person.

    GOD doesn't like ugly and the RNC knows they are doing the "Devil's work" and they WILL reap EVERYTHING they sow. Everything that goes around is going to COME AROUND. Just wait and see.

    August 5, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Mississippi Mike

    If the DNC wants to blame the GOP for people being upset over putting the entire nation on a stripped down Medicaid plan then the DNC needs to own up to the crimes of ACORN, the New Black Panthers, Code Pink, the environmental extremists, radical anarchists and the other groups they use as shock troopers. It's not so fun when people are shouting you down instead or participating in a discussion is it Democrats? Try blaming public outcry over bad legislation on Bush.

    August 5, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. Allelujah

    Of course he is ! The "ordinary Americans" are composed of ignorant robots who don't even understand their own health care system and follow blindly a script which tells them to support and enrich the profit-driven insurance companies.

    Public option IS the answer.

    August 5, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. David

    One part is true, between the GOP and RNC, they do nothing to better help the cause for this country.

    August 5, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  11. Libertarian

    Ahhhh, Mr Steele....what a tangled web we weave. The real loser in all this GOP crap is the voter/tax payer. The Repubs are further polarizing the nation by disseminating so MISINFORMATION. The taxpayers can't see the truth through all this crap. I'm done with both parties and their childishness.

    August 5, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. Grrr-awful-o

    The Dem Congress and Dem administration are getting seriously out of touch with America if they think that a lot of people are not really getting very upset about this healthcare debacle. This denial and making up fantastic excuses for what they're seeing in town halls is not going to serve them well in the end. Denial never works as a strategy for dealing with a problem. There will be a bloodbath in the midterm elections if they continue to dismiss American's concerns over this hugely expensive proposal that's getting literally rammed down our throats. And you can believe in that change!

    August 5, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. Tracy

    Children – both parties leadership need to grow up. I hope Americans continue to pay attention to both sides of the aisle. Further cleaning is still needed.

    August 5, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. Neutralizer

    Townhall protest is not organize by the GOP, these are real Americans regardless of political affiliation protesting out of control spending of Obambi, socialistic programs that goes against the fiber of our constitution.

    August 5, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. Larry

    Steele, i figured out a way to know when you're lying.....your lips move.

    August 5, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  16. Angela

    We are going out and shouting because WE DON'T WANT OBAMACARE! Nobody "organized" us or "incited us to become an angry mob". We are quite an angry mob on our own! We, the people, are fed up with having socialistic programs rammed down our throats and we want the Democrats to know it!

    August 5, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  17. Independent_me

    The RNC is bringing in mobs to townhall meetings. The Democrats need to cancel all town hall meetings and hold phone conference meetings by invitation only. They need to do mailings to alert their constituents about the RNC dirty tricks.

    August 5, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |

    yeah right!

    August 5, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  19. Ren from Baltimore

    Outsmarted the dimwit Democrats; wow, what a feat that must be. Hey, let's go steal the handicapped kid's glasses! We'll have a new kind of fun every single day! Look out, grandma's!!!

    August 5, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. George

    Steele lies just like the rest of the GOP. No decency left in the GOP.
    If there is they are too wimpy to speak out. They let the idiots like Steele speak for them. The GOP needs healthcare!!!

    August 5, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  21. Ken

    Liar, Liar, pants on fire. I know [R]s who tell me it IS true....they have been recruited. It doesn't get any more TWO-FACED than that!

    August 5, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. David

    Rather than bickering and complaining,do something positive. This is the same person (Steele) that said "want is in the past stays in the past, let's move forward". Well, when are you going to move and do it in a positive way that helps this country? Rather than tearing down everything offered by democrats, Because no party or person is perfect, offer something better. Otherwise, shut-up.

    August 5, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. history repeats

    my god! this is amazing. radio hosts and the glenn becks telling people to protest these town hall meetings have NOTHING to do with the RNC right?? no of course not....2 + 2 = 6 in republicanville.

    August 5, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Yeah, ok

    "Don't think you're going to direct a bunch of angry liberals to call the RNC," Steele said during an RNC conference call. "I get it. I'm [in] on the joke."

    I don't think they were joking!!

    August 5, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. Christian

    I love the use of the word 'denial' in this headline. As if he's not admitting he did something that we all know happened.
    Look – reality folks. Nothing is going on but honest opposition. When people oppose something in numbers, does that automatically disount their point. They have the right to scream in the face of ellected officials much louder, and much more distractingly, and perhaps they should as THEY are footing the bill for these programs.
    Anyone who would go along with this without getting some very specific questions answered and trust blindly is a fool. Right now people are not getting answers, and they have the right to be incensed with anger. There is nothing contrived about that.

    August 5, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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