April 5th, 2010
10:37 AM ET
12 years ago

Steele says he has 'slimmer margin' for error

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/29/art.steelem.0929.gi.jpg caption="Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele defended his leadership of the organization amid recent reports he has engaged in excessive spending."](CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele defended his leadership of the organization amid recent reports he has engaged in excessive spending, and says he has a "slimmer margin for error" because he is African-American.

"Barack Obama has a slimmer margin," Steele said in an interview on ABC's 'Good Morning America.' "We all - a lot of folks do. I mean, it's a different role for me to play and others to play. And that's just the reality of it. It's more of because you're not somebody they know. I am not a Washington insider even though I grew up in DC. My view of politics is much more grassroots-oriented. It's not old-boy-network-oriented."

The interview was Steele's first since reports surfaced that the RNC paid for a night out at a risqué Hollywood nightclub. Steele has also come under criticism for the costs associated with his use of private jets, limousines, and five-star hotels.

News of the excessive expenditures are the latest in a series of gaffes involving Steele – the party's chairman since January of 2009 - leading some Republicans to privately and publicly question whether he is the best leader for the GOP going into a crucial round of midterm elections.

"This kind of thing has got to stop or they won't get any contributions," Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl said on Fox News Sunday. "The people that contribute to the committees, both Democrat and Republican, want to know that their money is well spent for the cause, and it needs to be that way."

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council - an influential social conservative organization - also urged supporters last week to stop donating to the RNC and instead contribute to its own coffers or to candidates with like-minded goals.

And a group of influential Republicans launched a new independent organization last week with the goal of raising over $50 million to help their party topple Democrats in this year's midterm elections. With its ambitious fundraising goal, the new group, called American Crossroads, is likely to compete with many of the same donors the RNC is targeting.

But In his interview Monday, Steele maintained he is the right leader for the organization and touted his fundraising success since assuming the chairmanship 14 months ago.

"At the end of the day, I've raised more than the Democrats in seven out of 12 months," he said. "I carried over the same amount of money as the [Democratic National Committee] in 2010. We had a very good march and will have a very good April. The bottom line is I hear my donors, I hear the base out there, I hear the leadership. "

Federal Election Commission reports filed at the end of February showed the RNC with more than $9 million cash on hand while the DNC reported $10.7 million in the bank. But the RNC had no debt at the time while the DNC reported close to $4 million in debt.

UPDATE: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday "Michael Steele's problem isn't the race card, it's the credit card."

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soundoff (185 Responses)
  1. www.usdebtclock.org

    Steele is a train wreck - the gift that keeps on giving, for the Dems.

    April 5, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. JC

    Ok, you know when someone is going down pretty fast if they start playing the "race card". You know, instead why dont you act like a leader and do a decent job? Then you dont HAVE to play your race card.

    April 5, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. joel palmer

    A slimmer margin for error? This idiot hasn't a clue; it's not about being black; it's about being incompetent at your job. If the head of the DNC did half of what Stelle has done (or not done); I would be calling for his resignation.

    More likely, the ONLY reason Steele hasn't been fired alrady as the would reduce the number of prominent black republicans by a third.

    April 5, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    What a jerk! So there is a separate and different set of standards because he's BLACK???


    April 5, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. patriot

    Is this guy kidding? Not part of the old boy network? Not a Washington "insider?" Mr. Steele has been in DC his entire life, he has been kissing butt in the old boy network for over 20 years–as a lawyer, lobbyist, and GOP official, if Steele isn't an "insider" than nobody is!

    April 5, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Tommy P

    So he realizes his token status? As soon as Obama is gone he will be voted out because they wont need their token anymore.

    April 5, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. Brink

    Don't hide behind race. You have a slim margin for error because of your conduct. And the fact that you are an idiot.

    April 5, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  8. Paul

    Now this is the same Michale Steele who likes to accuse black Democrats of playing the race card, right? Another GOP hypocrite? Somehow I am less than surprised.

    April 5, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. Will South Dakota

    Funny he relied on the good ole boy network to get his job....the GOP should end his job benefits....

    April 5, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  10. VernisRobertson

    This guy needs to go away . And stop trying to blame President Obama for your weaknesses. Micheal Steele wouldn't have this job , if canindate Obama didn't become President.

    April 5, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  11. DB

    So now he wants to play the race card when the heat is on him and he wants to compare his situation to that of the president! Give me a break.

    I don't always agree with that the president has done but I have yet to here him interject race as a reason for his issues. Others (like those comemnting here and the media) may use race but to my knowledge nothing directly from the president.

    Come on Steele. Either own up or get out.

    April 5, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. James Miller

    Now he uses the "race card" to defend himself. The Repub hounds must be nipping at his heels.

    April 5, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Slimmer error fo margin??? After the shinnaigans of the past year that he has pulled...I believe NO ERROR OF MARGIN would be more appropriate !!!

    April 5, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. blake

    As a Republican I think Mr. Steele is way over his head and is hurting the RNC and its ability to elect Republicans. Time to step down gracefully.

    April 5, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Armando Guzman

    I hope the GOP keeps this guy, he truly is a nut cake. He was put in to fend off the GOP's good old boy image. Either keep him or put Sarah Palin in, that ought to keep the evangelical/white supremist party going strong

    April 5, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  16. frank from florida

    Sounds like he's using the race card to excuse bad behavior. The reality is, that if a white middle-aged politician was caught in a strip club spend political contributions, he would have had to resign. Anybody remember Wilbur Mills?

    April 5, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. Dean

    As a conservative I feel that Steele has got to go. The Republican party has gbot to get back to its roots and Steele does not belong there. And I am tired of the woe is me poor black man routine from either party.

    April 5, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Larry

    Why does this white honky think he is an African-American just because he has black skin?

    April 5, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Laverne

    Ah Michael, did you just figure that out?? Of course there is a "slimmer margin" of error for you and President Obama and if anybody deny it they are living in a serious state of denial! This is the America we live in, not a whole lot better than 50 years ago just more discreet in it's sneaky racism. Even though I am not a fan of Michael Steele, they both are trailblazer and continue to have to take one for the team on a daily basis. At times it is painful to watch!

    April 5, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. Kittyg

    I gave up on the RNC when they made Steele their leader. They need to replace him.

    April 5, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. Mike

    No, it's not because your black, it's because you're an idiot!

    April 5, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  22. Ken in NC

    This man, about a year ago, claimed no reason for any Democrat to play the race care and here he is today "PLAYING THE RACE CARD" in an effort to cover his own a$$.

    Now that is funny to me because I am a Black man that laughed when he made the statement about a year ago.

    Both party's screw around with campaign donations and now he is in the fire. That is soooooooooo funny.

    April 5, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. JohnRJ08

    I wondered how long it would take Steele to play his own version of the 'race card'. The man is pathetic.

    April 5, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Reagan

    Didn't the GOP put him in charge as a response to Obama's race? Oh look we're inclusive too. We have a black senator and gay republican; we're so progressive.

    April 5, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. akachip

    And this man is still a Republican dupe. Hard to believe he does not know his margin of error is even narrower within the Republican/conservative groups. The only reason he is head of the GOP is because he is their answer to Barack Hussein Obama. Talk about being a tool for the GOP. LOL!

    April 5, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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