April 7th, 2010
09:50 AM ET
12 years ago

Top GOP strategist calls for Steele to step down

Washington (CNN) - Prominent Republican strategist Alex Castellanos called on Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele to step down Tuesday after a series of embarrassing headlines raised questions about Steele's ability to lead the party into November's elections.

"I think a change in the direction now, at this point, would do the party good," Castellanos told CNN's "The Situation Room."

Castellanos a CNN political contributor, described Steele as a "good man, a very decent man and a tremendously talented man." But he said he had stopped serving as an informal advisor to Steele because "I lost my ability to be of service to the RNC."

But in an earlier interview on the same show, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani expressed confidence in Steele, saying that the RNC chairman "should remain exactly where he is."

Giuliani noted that Republicans picked up the Virginia and New Jersey governor's offices, as well as the seat held by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, on Steele's watch.

"I think Michael Steele has us on a good track," Giuliani said.

Steele's chief of staff resigned Monday, and another key political ally cut ties with the chairman the same day. The Republican Party now appears to be dividing into two camps over Steele's future.

Tuesday, New Hampshire RNC member Sean Mahoney accused Steele of spending donor's money with "reckless disregard" and resigned his position on the committee. Sam Fox, an RNC fundraiser and former U.S. ambassador to Belgium, also has parted ways with the national committee. But former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is siding with Giuliani when it comes to Steele's fate.

"I think Michael Steele is capable of taking us through the midterm elections," Gingrich told NBC's "Today."

"My advice would be to appoint a respected outside authority to review everything," Gingrich said. "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."

Critics charge that Steele is misusing party funds - including using private jets - as Republicans head into the midterm elections with less money than Democrats. The party's House and Senate campaign committees rely on the national parties to help fund efforts in the midterm election years.

Last week, Steele also came under fire from social conservatives after reports surfaced that the RNC had picked up a nearly $2,000 tab at a bondage-themed West Hollywood nightclub for a group of young donors. A few days later, Democrats distributed an RNC fundraising solicitation that had a misprinted number sending callers to a phone sex line.

Steele also had to distance himself from an internal party document that described high-level Republican donors as "ego-driven" and suggested enticing them with "tchochkes" while urging "visceral" appeals to small donors.

Steele e-mailed all 168 RNC members Monday evening to tell them of chief of staff Ken McKay's departure, and he accepted responsibility for the recent incidents that cast the RNC in a bad light. But Castellanos said he thinks that Steele "has lost the support" of Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and "more importantly, he's lost the support of a lot of our major donors."

"(It's) the donors who provide the money, the lifeblood, the oxygen the Republican Party needs to succeed on its mission to take back control of the House," said Castellanos. He said the money GOP candidates need to compete in November "is frozen," adding, "Perhaps a change in leadership here would thaw that and allow that support to flow."

Castellanos, a principal in the GOP consulting firm National Media Inc., has worked on the presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain, former

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President George W. Bush's re-election, as well as for numerous other Republican candidates.

Filed under: Michael Steele • RNC • Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Peter

    One loser calling for another loser to step down!!! Sorry buddy if any one should call for steele to step down it shouldnt be you...you are trying to go on record saying i called it first what a loser!!!

    April 6, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  2. Livin' the good life

    YES! Leave him IN his current position! That way, Democrats WILL win come November! YEAH!!! Beau Colby

    April 6, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  3. BeverlyNC

    I hope the RNC keeps the incompetent Steele. He has not raised any money and has spent more than half of their cash on hand.

    Let's keep letting him creating disaster after disaster so no person will trust giving their money to the RNC. Come November they will not have enough money to run their usual nasty lying "in the gutter" ads.

    Knowing the Republicans can be trusted fiscally with their own money is terrific. Let"s use it to get rid of all Republicans up for re-election. None of them have done anything for America or anything positive for the People, so let's get rid of the NO brigade and fill their seats with hard working Democrats who know what the People need and understand what our lives are like right now.

    Please, please keep Steele so he can bankrupt the RNC and take the candidates down with him!

    April 6, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  4. obamamama

    Stick a fork in "da man", he's done.

    April 6, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. Arnie

    The Joe Isuzu of politics!

    April 6, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  6. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Hang in there Michael, we need ya buddy. You are almost as precious to the Democrats as sarah palin. Keep up the good work and don't let the bullies that run your party scare you, your doin a fine job.

    April 6, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  7. Michael from Ventura

    The republican ship is the new Titanic. They promote the very things that got us into this mess- greed. egos and lies. Doesn't matter who the Captain of the ship is....It's gonna SINK.

    April 6, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  8. www.BlowOutCongress.com

    Thanks Alex. The circular firing squad continues. This will be the news everyday so long as Repugs continue to declare war on themselves and their donors with self-inflicted wounds more serious than anything the Dems could have done. Why an out-of-power party would choose to unilaterally self-destruct is beyond me.

    April 6, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  9. Jamie from Riverside

    I think Michael Steel should remain exactly where he is. He is the gift (to Democrats) that keeps on giving. Besides, removing him now would be an admission of a mistake, and the GOP doesn't make mistakes.

    April 6, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  10. demogal

    Please, Michael Steele, don't step down! We love you! How much more humiliation can the Repugnicant Party endure? Let's find out.

    April 6, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  11. diridi

    that is not a valid reason, man.....Alex, do not be another idiot...ok.

    April 6, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  12. Larry

    Steele should step down, and CNN should stop calling Castellanos a political strategist!

    April 6, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    "Castellanos, a principal in the GOP consulting firm National Media Inc., has worked on the presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain, former
    Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President George W. Bush's re-election"

    Hey CNN, I am available as a con political analyst. I worked on behalf of McCain and Mitt and I was SUCCESSFUL, they LOST!

    Proves I know more than Castanets or whatever..

    April 6, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  14. Carmelle

    Other than so many ppl dying, I really wish the mine accident didn't happen, because I have sweet&buttery popcorn at home and would love to see Rachel and Keith would make this even more hilarious than it already is (like only them can).

    This is priceless. Steele you da man!!!

    April 6, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  15. Perusing-through


    In response to pea-brain Alex Castellanos, the Republican-GOP needs to respond with a resounding 'NO'! Why listen to Castellano when he lost Romney’s 2008 bid for President.

    Michael Steele has already help the GOP collect three state wins – – Virginia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. So far Steele is 3-for-3. Don’t include NY-23, because Sarah Palin ruined that one for the GOP.

    April 6, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  16. Truth

    " Prominent Republican strategist Alex Castellanos called on Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele"

    Anytime CNN calls a republican prominent that means the Rino is a tool for CNN. Castellanos is a loser and doesn't speak for conservatives.

    April 6, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  17. Truth

    Why don't you tell the truth? The loser was kicked out by the McCain camp. He is a loser just like CNN.

    April 6, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Alex is more on the political hot line and is way more knowledgeable while Guiliani has his interest in mine only. I don't always agree with Alex but he does know politics and has more to lose than Guiliani has to gain.

    April 6, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  19. Pragmatic

    If the GOP had vision and leadership to offer, not to mention a plan for the country that didn't favor war over average Americans & infrastructure ... they wouldn't have to resort to sleaze to recruit!!! ... and if "45" is considered young ....ya know the party is made up of old people!

    April 6, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  20. The Veteran

    I think he should step down. The Republican Party is not for any minorities. Castellanos must be all about the money.

    Leave the Republican party to the Pharisees and the Racists.

    April 6, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  21. Shelly

    The RNC spend more then it made ..spend 115 million dollars after it made 109 million. And there people out there that think the Republicans are going to do a better job on the economy!
    Remember folks by the time Bush left 800, 000 were being LOST. Last month 620, 000 jobs were created. That is POSITIVE!
    Most Americans are very misinformed or simply do not understand what has happened and what is really happening!

    April 6, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |

    A house divided cannot stand. Perhaps the chikens have come home to roost.

    April 6, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  23. jbakaregit

    Alex, either way you won't be rid of Steele, the same way you (we) aren't rid of Palin.

    The GOP picked him in a cynical attempt as the answer to Obama, just like they picked Palin as a cynical reaction to Hillary. Now, Steele has done the same as Palin - gone rogue, destroys everything he touches, working for his own benefit, and can't get enough of the limelight.

    April 6, 2010 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |