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. Belle1

    Actually, if you attended a Town Hall meeting, you might find out the Republicans are in deep doo with voters as well.

    August 5, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Mark in Miami

    The dems did this for years to President Bush. They don't like the taste of their own medicine. Do they?

    August 5, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. Brad Lyons

    I'm sick of these liberal democrats who have their head so far up their butt they refuse to see that THIS IS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TALKING BACK, you know-the citizens that they are stealing from and making laws that are killing everything this country has stood for? They are trying to pass as much as possible, as fast as possible so that the American people can not stick up for our own opinions-then blame the GOP. How about this.....AMERICANS UNITE, fight big government. WE'RE SICK OF IT......

    I'm proud to be an American, and I'm just as proud to denounce Obama as our President-he is not!

    August 5, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. Cindy

    The Joker face belongs on Michael Steele, not Barack Obama. Steele obviously advocates pranks and anarchy, not solutions.

    Laugh it up, Mr. Steele... the joke's on you.

    August 5, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. James

    Steele is a tool! He absolutely knows all about this campaign. Just because a big $$ lobby consulting team is doing it doesn't make the GOP or Steele innocent. Some good journalist (hint hint CNN) should be investigating who is paying for all the lobbyists' time.

    August 5, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. Nathan,

    Steele is a joke. Does tthis guy think for one moment that he would be chair of the RNC if Obama had not become President. Dosen't he know he's being used by the Republicans to show that they're inclusive. If they wanted to show that they're inclusive they could have gottten someone nore inclusive than that joke Steele.

    August 5, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Mike in MN

    I like it. Divert the DNC lies back to their origin. The RNC is not telling anyone to be angry, just to express their point of view. If they are angry it is the fault of the Democrats for trying to rush complicated health care reform down the throats of the American people. Makes me angry. Don't need anyone to tell me to be angry. Health care is very personal. The only way to sell this to the American people is to take there time and let everyone know what is in the details of the thousand plus pages. If there are government regulations that impact the doctor/patient relationship of those who currently have private insurance and like it, the anger will be multiplied ten fold. Obama and the Dems will be proven to be decievers and liers.

    August 5, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Michael Steele is lying through his teeth by saying the RNC isn't involved in those town hall disruptive tantrums that the Republicans are behind! The RNC and the GOP are basically one in the same. How childish they all are, and the majority of intelligent people in this country can see through the lies. Only the right-wing nut jobs who are on the fringe of sanity agree with this behavior. They are giving the rest of us a huge headache but a good laugh as well!

    August 5, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. Richard S

    Yeah right!

    August 5, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Ted Tartaglia

    When have Republicans ever owned up to their dirty tricks? Steel is just another example of the whiners in the Party of NO!

    August 5, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Dishonest Barry

    Only a lying liberal would believe that these people have been put there by the Republicans. As an Independent, I am tired of lazy people claiming to be victims.

    August 5, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. Thinker

    Michael Steele is such a lame brain. Its obvious that the repukes are clueless, and that they don't want to learn anything from the mess they created. Now they think its funny to act like frat boys over an issue that is important. The more they act like jerks the more I support a single payer system.

    August 5, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Phil

    Figures, no one home at the RNC. Or perhaps a huevoless situation?

    August 5, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  14. Grrr-awful-o

    Dems: "We don't need to read the bill. We won!"

    August 5, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. RB

    I have a proposal. If Congress thinks this health care proposal is so great, why don't they cancel the health insurance provided to Congress and replace it with the one they want to pass. Obama ducked the question about his insurance saying "he has good insurance".

    Obama and congress: lead by example, if you want your constituents to believe this is just what we need then you also should be on the same program.

    My bet, they will never do it. Doesn't that tell everyone "do as i say but not as i do"!

    August 5, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Ruty

    Of course Steele denies everything. If fact, he probable dosen't even know where he is or who he is.

    August 5, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. stormerF

    Democrats can not believe that other Democrats disagee with them,and do not want the Government to ruin their health care.Especially when the Democrats admit they have not read the bill,that is not in final draft form and has already had 100 changes,so they do not know what is in it.
    Town halls can get loud and roudy,when they are not scripted as Obama's are.

    August 5, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. James Herhold

    Steele lies again. The 'wingnuts' fingerprints are all over the disruption of town hall meetings. It is Bush v. Gore all over again. It is Terry Shiavo all over again. These disruptionists cannot govern ( 8 years of Bush). They can only disrupt and devalue.
    I have known these people all my life. They are the kind of people who have something and will not allow anyone else to have what they have.
    When health care finally bankrupts this country, no one will have health care. Certainly not those who can only say NO.

    August 5, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. NJ

    Ha ha ha right right right....

    And the cookie monster has no idea what happened in the kitchen. Mr. Steele is shocked SHOCKED to learn their is gambling in Casablanca.

    I guess when you lie as much as the Republicans you stop caring whether anybody knows you're lying.

    August 5, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. Jim Fryrear

    I have read a lot of nonsense from both sides of the isle, however let us for a moment take a deep breath and ask ourselves has anyone mentioned tort reform? How about removing the fraud from the system? How about allowing individuals and small business's to deduct their premiums from income tax? How about letting small business and individuals form large groups, across state lines and letting them pick the coverage they want from the most competitive companies?? I think these are ideas that have not been included in the mix at this point, How about health care plans with large deductibles, and let the people who are needing health care to make the call on when to see a doctor. They are called Health Care Saving plans.

    August 5, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. pam Eugene OR

    This is why the RNC loved Palin. It was her ability to whip the crowd into a frenzied mob. I sure do wish we could return to politics with some civil thoughtful conversation. It has gotten out of hand with both parties, so full of hate and lies and distortions. You really have to look at everything both sides say very carefully to try and find some truth mixed in with all the accusations. It is very sad.

    August 5, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. Bob

    I really don't think the GOP is that organized to pull something like this off. I think the Dems are giving them more credit than they deserve.

    August 5, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  23. Tanya Kujath

    It's really sad that at a time when the President is doing what he has been elected to do ( take care of his Country and it's citizens ) by trying to do the one thing that has been long over due, reforming health care so we can be a better, healthier, stronger Country that he is getting so much opposition from people who are only arguing for their party's sake not for the sake of people like you and me Americans.

    August 5, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  24. JayG

    its kinda funny how they these liberals actually thinkg the GOP has something to do with speaking their own opinions. Why is it whenever we disagree with this administration it must be an "angry mob" and not someone just voicing their opinion. We are watching our country being taken away from us by this administration.

    August 5, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. Laurie

    No ability to have civilized discussion when Republicans, RNC, and conservative talk show hosts incite hatred and maliciousness by perpetuating half truths and lies. Booker T. Washington said "Great men cultivate love.....only little men cherish a spirit of hatred." It appears that the Republican party cherishs the spirit of hatred based on the nature of their behavior during the campaign i.e.crowds at McCain/Palin rallies and presently at town hall meetings. Shameful actions by all involved, participants at meetings and Republican Senators urging them on. Try to act like adults and have meaningful discussions regarding this most important issue.

    August 5, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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