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. Enlightened Voter

    Someone please tell me the republican's health care reform plan..........................................I'm waiting......................................

    August 5, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. Jane

    Frustrated, Really????? Good for you since your party (or their favorite lobbyists) started this ridiculous behavior. What a bunch of children!!!

    August 5, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. Joe the Troll

    Republicans are cowards.

    August 5, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. T'SAH from Virginia

    Okay – so what makes you THINK they disrupters at the DNC Town Hall meetings ARE NOT Republicans?????

    August 5, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. Paul from Phoenix

    When Hillary said it was the duty of Americans to question the government, libs praised her.

    Now, questioning the Obama policies is being compared to treason. So, now that the Dems are in control, I guess we can no longer question? THat is a very George W. Bush stance coming from the left.

    August 5, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Terry

    I have not attended any town hall meetings but when I do I will scream and yell. I have e-mailed both my Senators in NJ and asked them a simple question. Have they or do they intend on reading the Health Care Reform bill (or for that matter other bills) that may come up. What I got back from the junior Senetor (Menendez) was a lenghty position paper on health care. The senior Senetor did not even bother. Why I'm going to scream and yell is because they don't answer questions that are asked of them but answer what ever they want.

    August 5, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. annie for Palin

    This is exactly what is wrong with the dnc and this administration. They seem to think that the mainstream REAL AMERICAN CITIZEN cannot think for themselves. Well, they are so wrong! We not only think for ourselves but a whole lot of us have read at least in portion HR3200and that is a whole lot more than the people who are suppose to be representing us have done! There is nothing unusual about REAL AMERICAN CITIZENS standing up and voicing their opinions – what is unusual is the current administration, the dnc and the biased news media that is managed and operated by the current administration trying to prevent REAL AMERICAN CITIZENS from exercising their constitutional rights!

    August 5, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Jordan

    Cool move on the RNC's part. What do Obama and the Democrats not understand. People are outraged over this so called Health Care reform. When they all get voted out of office maybe they will realize the anger that is out there.

    August 5, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Ronald R

    This really shows what America Haters the GOP have become. They only want to bring down the Country. I really wish all of them who said they would leave if Obama were elected would leave already! Time to vote out every republican in the Nation in 2010! They can take their "C Street" with them to North Korea!

    August 5, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. GOPer

    Steele >> teabaggers >> Freedom Works >> townhall fringe

    Oh sure, Steele knew nothing at all about the lobbyist ploy. Nothing. He is totally innocent..

    What a joke! And dare I say..denial, if Steele thinks Americans are that naive to believe his nonsense.

    August 5, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. shucks

    I guess he really couldn't admit it could he. LOL

    August 5, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  12. Cheryl

    It's true everything Michael Steele is saying. I've been to several town halls and tea parties and there is nothing "manufactured" by the GOP going on. People are extremely frustrated at whats going on in this country and feel helpless....helpless because OUR elected officials will not listen to us. Majority of the United States is against this health care plan and we just want our voices heard and not given the "run around". And, for our own government to call us angry mobs is reprehensible. It only makes things worse between the citizens and the government.

    August 5, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. Rob from Texas

    Nothing but hate as usual coming from the Republican Party in the recent years. One of many reasons our traditionally Moderate Republican family jumped ship and has abandoned the party, like so many others have already done.

    August 5, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. Island girl

    Mr. Steele is distancing himself from the child’s play but it won’t help the party. I am constantly looking to see if there are any solutions offered by his party when President Obama’s policies are criticized but so far – zilch!!! I guess I will have to go to Lens Crafters to get some high powered specs to do the trick.

    I agree with Steele that the GOP has nothing to gain by being disruptive but it seems as if they have no other recourse due to lack of sensible ideas to promote their party.

    August 5, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  15. Billiez

    Obama and the DNC did not learn the "Teaching Moment" in Mass.
    Obama is repeating the same mistake, jumping to conclusions without all the facts. I went to one of these to express my opinion of the health care bill. I am not a Republican and sadly voted for Obama. Now, I realize that he IS a socialist and his extravagant spending and socialist programs will ruin America. The American people need to have their voices heard and the idiots in congress will not listen. They want us to come to their meetings and sit there quietly while they pontificate a bunch of lies. I don't think so!

    August 5, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  16. Ellie

    Steele's comments just SOLIDIFIES the fact that he's LYING through his big teeth.

    Steele's statement to the media just proves Republicans ARE INDEED RESPONSIBLE FOR INCITING TOWN HALL MOB PROTESTS!!!

    HA! HA! HA!

    Whew... what a bunch of LIARS. They don't know when to keep their traps shut. The MORE Republicans talk, the more they oust themselves as LIARS.

    August 5, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  17. Richard L

    It's not surprising that the party that constantly yells about their rights being taken away is now trying to stop public officials from talking. The hypocrisy of the Party of No never ceases.

    August 5, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. RAG

    Steele is a liar. The messages that are being parroted are too similar, too tight. This is agitprop at its worst (best?). Gobbels would be proud of them.

    August 5, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  19. Tony in Maine

    Were it not for myths and lies, Republicans would have nothing to say.

    August 5, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. JT

    I'm assuming that Limbaugh had his hand up the puppet's ass(meaning Steele) so he can speak. Steele shows real lack of leadership and brass to even be called any party's National Chairman.

    August 5, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. donttreadonme

    Yes demonize the RNC all the while your policies are failing and your poll numbers are down.

    Seems to me libs need an enemy ........hate the rich, hate white males, hate Christians, hate the conservatives, hate the police, and hate the military.

    After all your situation is never your fault…you are always a victim of something…..

    August 5, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. GWB

    RNC = Repetitive Nauseating Crap

    August 5, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. Larry

    LIES, LIES ... and more LIES Mr Steele

    How do you Republicans sleep at night ???

    Have you no souls at all ???


    August 5, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. JVS

    The saddest part is these right-wing extremists actually believe they are part of a "grass-roots" effort. Meanwhile everyone with a brain has already figured out this "movement" for what it really is (health insurance lobbyists) and is laughing at them. It almost makes me feel sorry for them being totally used as pawns like that.

    August 5, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Obama is not my Hero

    Redirecting the phone calls to the DNC is HILARIOUS and very CLEVER!!!!!!!!! Those liberals and the DNC must have felt like complete idiots! LOL! Great job Republican's! LOL!

    August 5, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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