[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/11/art.gingrich052809.gi.jpg caption="Gingrich says it's time for Republicans to get behind Michael Steele."](CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says it's time for Republican insiders to lay off Michael Steele.
"I think it's foolish to focus on Michael Steele as a person," Gingrich said Tuesday on NBC's Today Show. "I think what we ought to do is focus on Democrats. We have a real chance to elect [House Minority Leader] John Boehner as speaker and to elect [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell as majority leader."
The comments follow a series or embarrassing headlines for the chairman of the Republican National Committee and his organization, including news that the committee financed a night out at a risqué Hollywood night club and spent big on private jets, limousines, and five-star hotels. The embattled chairman was in the headlines again Monday when his chief of staff, Ken McKay, resigned his post and a political strategy firm, OnMessage Inc., severed ties with the organization.
Gingrich, in his interview Tuesday, said Steele has proven to be an effective leader of the RNC and should remain in his post heading into the crucial round of elections this November.
"I think Michael Steele is capable of taking us through the midterm elections," he said. "My advice would be to appoint a respected outside authority to review everything." The fact is they have fired the young person who made the big mistake that has gotten all the noise. The fact is Michael Steele has raised a lot of money, campaigned very aggressively, helped win in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts."
In his own interview Monday, Steele maintained that 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," Steele 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 that the RNC had 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 and the DNC reported close to $4 million in debt.