July 2nd, 2010
12:47 PM ET
13 years ago

Kristol says Steele needs to go; RNC defends

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/02/art.getty.rnc.steele.jpg caption="RNC Chairman Michael Steele is under fire for comments he made on the war in Afghanistan."](CNN) – As a leading conservative voice is calling on Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to resign his post, the RNC is defending the chairman's recent statements that appeared to criticize of the United States' war effort in Afghanistan and suggest the conflict there may be unwinnable.

"The Chairman clearly supports our troops but believes that success of the war effort in Afghanistan requires the ongoing support of the American people," RNC Communications Director Dough Heye said.

In a speech at a Republican fundraiser in Connecticut Thursday, a YouTube video shows the RNC chairman declaring of the war in Afghanistan, "This was a war of Obama's choosing."

"This is not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in," he added.

Updated 2:30 p.m. ET with a statement from Michael Steele. Read the statement after the jump.

That statement is at odds with the fact the United States led a NATO coalition with overwhelming public support to invade Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and has prompted William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, to publicly call on Steele to step down.

"There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they're certainly entitled to make their case. But one of them shouldn't be the chairman of the Republican party," Kristol wrote.

Speaking at the Connecticut fundraiser, Steele also appeared to suggest any conflict in Afghanistan may be unwinnable.

"Well if [Obama's] such a student of history, has he not understood that that's the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan. Alright? Because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan without committing more troops," Steele he said in expressing a position that is not only at odds with the White House but most of the Republican Party as well.

Heye said Steele was making the point that "[t]he responsibility for building and maintaining that strategy falls squarely on the shoulders of the President."

"Like so many Americans, Chairman Steele wants to hear an explanation from President Obama on what his strategy is for winning the war in Afghanistan," Heye added.

Heye also pointed out that "nowhere did Steele say or suggest that (a) we shouldn't be there, (b) we can't win or (c) he didn't support the surge."

Update: Steele issued a statement Friday afternoon. Read it below.

“As we enter the Fourth of July weekend, I proudly remember standing with Maryland National Guardsmen on their way to the Middle East and later stood with the mothers of soldiers lost at war. There is no question that America must win the war on terror.

“During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan. Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy. And, for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war.

“As we have learned throughout history, winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task. We must also remember that after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, it is also a necessary one. That is why I supported the decision to increase our troop force and, like the entire United States Senate, I support General Petraeus’ confirmation. The stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan.”

Filed under: GOP • Michael Steele • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (268 Responses)
  1. Hows that oil slick coming along Rush?

    Poor uncle Mike,he was a good sharecropper for the Scumbags for a while,time to go spend all that bagmoney on a southern mansion in some ghetto in Atlanta.hahaha

    July 2, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. annie s

    Mikey, Mikey, Mikey – a war of Obama's choosing?? So, you didn't notice the almost 8 years prior to Obama that we were in Afghanistan?

    July 2, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Carmelle


    Happy 4th!

    July 2, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. NVa Native

    Steele is great ~ he is the true republican politician.

    July 2, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. ex-repulican since McCain picked Palin

    Oh, and did he also speak out agains Bush's war? This guy turns my stomach. Just another hateful, Obama bashing, untruthful smuck! Do you think he reads these comments. If so, Americans are getting tired of all the hate and complaining you guys do.

    July 2, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. AEK

    You have got to be kidding me!!!!!!! When George W decided to engage in his own personal vendetta in Irag in the name of "nation building" and neglected the real was in Afghanistan, the Republican party lost any further right to complain about the way that war was prosecuted. When military commanders repeatedly came to W and requested more help, he blew them off until he could dump the mess in President Obama's lap. Another unbelievable hypocrite from the Republican party speaks!

    July 2, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. MichaelK

    Well, I'll be damned. Absolutely the most coherent statement about the war in The Place Empires Go To Die ever made by a politician and he could lose his job over it.

    July 2, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. mkn

    So where has this out of touch, out of his mind person been for the last 8 years?
    I dunno, maybe he should stick around he reminds us how out of touch the republicans really are.

    July 2, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Jackalope

    The neo-cons make another run at controlling the GOP.

    July 2, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. TTBALA

    Oh you idiot Heye, how can you lower yourself to the standard of Steel and defend him, are you stupid that you stans behind someone who accuses Obama about the Afgan war, was he living in lala land when Bush went to war in Afganistan, then again, what can you expect from Repugs, this is their level of inteligence, one makes stuped remark the other defends him, and we want these idiots to come back to power, HELLO America wake up and take a look at this article.

    July 2, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Davit

    Afghanistan is a war of Obama's choosing? What year did the Afghan war start? What year did Obama take the oath of office? Is there any greater evidence needed that the head of the Republican party is living in a fantasy world?

    July 2, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. dofhacc

    You know, if the Republican's want my independent vote, one of the first things they need to do is stop rewriting history that I witnessed. If you continuously refuse to admit what you have done, and I watched you do what you are trying to deny, then you are simply liars.

    July 2, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. Christopher Lyon Negrych

    Huh?? Obama chose this?? This is stupid even for Steele.

    July 2, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Spillner

    Considering it was the Republicans who put us in 2 wars at the same time, I find this pretty hypocritical.

    July 2, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. jer

    these people will say anything to criticize the president

    July 2, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. James Brooklyn N.Y.

    I am sure Steele speaks for the entire Republican party since he is their leader. What ever Bush did was right and whatever Obama does is wrong. That is what I feel is the Republican stance. I read that as the Republicans just want to be in charge. They do not care about America nor the world they just want to be in charge. They are all just a bunch of spoiled brats that do not know how to get anything positive done. They hate the middle class they hate the poor they hate gays they hate anyone with a different opinion. They can never defend their position because they have no position other than they should be in charge. There is no such thing as a good republican those days are long gone.

    July 2, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Ferret out the BS

    Again from the Republican leadership, criticism with no solution. Mr. Steele is too afraid to offer up a solution because the Republican leaders have none.

    July 2, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  18. Byrd

    We all trhink that Steele is just doing a bang-up job. Carry on.

    July 2, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Clint, Wa.

    This was a war of Obama's choosing."

    Say what?

    July 2, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. thunder1road

    The right wing lie machine is operating at full capacity. How can anyone believe that the war in Afghanistan is "a war of Obama's choosing." ????? Do the Republicans actually believe that even the Fox News viewers are that dumb??

    The real reason they want Michael Steele to resign is twofold.
    1) he told the truth – the war is definitely unwinnable
    2) he is black.

    July 2, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. jeff jackson, alabama

    We can not win the war in Afghanistan by letting the
    politicians control it instead of the military. A yes man
    general is not a warrior.

    July 2, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. CR

    The Republican Party is openly undermining U.S. policy in Afghanistan. The GOP is (rightfully) finished.

    July 2, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. Cheri

    OK...I guess Steele was in la-la land when we went into Afghanistan under the BUSH Administration. You gotta hand it to the Repuglicans – they will do ANYTHING to make Mr. Obama look bad and will find a way to blame Obama for EVERYTHING that happened under the Bush Administration. How ya going to defend that in your talk radio, Limbaugh?

    July 2, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Christopher

    He has made many odd/idiotic statements along the way. I think his time is over and should be forced to step down.

    July 2, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. Barack.Hussein.Obama-America's-Benevolent-DICTATOR

    Steele does say some pretty dumb things. Somebody in a position like this needs to be very careful with every word. Given his track record, I'm not sure he's capable of doing this.

    July 2, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
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