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. AndyBlue

    "This was a war of Obamas choosing?"

    Bahahaha!!! I think republicans are so confused. Its sad that so many died these past 9 years because of Obamas choices.

    And people seriously want to give control of their childrens futures back to the republicans?

    Are we really the fat lazy stupid people the rest of the world thinks we are?

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

    How can this man be so out of touch with the average american?

    July 2, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Susan in NC

    "This was a war of Obama's choosing." What the heck? NOT HARDLY! Another one of those Republican't chants that they think they can repeat over and over till it becomes true..........what a lie!

    July 2, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Jason

    Of course Steele is correct. We are in a situation that we cannot win. Its the hell bent religious whackos in America that started the war on 9-11. Its the American christians who wanted the holy war, now they have one. If it wasn't for America's cozy relationship with Israel, we wouldn't need to be in Afghanistan nor Iraq!

    This is Obamas war? Ok so 9-11 didn't happen? W.T.F. is wrong with you Republicants? Bush started this and now its Obamas fault. Typical BS from a party of BSers!

    July 2, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. larry-1950544

    It's Obama's war? Sure. Trouble is, the war is 9 years old, while Obama's only been in office for 2 years. The facts never seem to slow down Republicans.

    July 2, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. Duck Fallas

    Heye sounds like a bigger moron than Steele. Replace Steele with Heye.

    July 2, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. mw-worthy

    Kristol, Steele, they ALL need to go!

    July 2, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Ray

    excuse me, but did you just climb out of a hole somewhere?? "This was a war of Obama's choosing." we were there long before President Obama came into office.

    July 2, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. street smart

    Dubya & the GOP run House & Senate refused to listen to the Penatagon and encouraged the CIA to help doctor evidence that would look like an attack of nuclear weapons by Sadaam Hussein on the USA would be imminent. Dubya caused all the political unrest there and the whole world knows it. Obama is listening to every military strategist he can in order to fix what Dubya, Dumbsfeld & Dick had broken. Steele as usual needs to make sure his brain is engaged while shooting off his mouth. The Pentagon & Obama are doing the best they can with what they got. If Steele and the Rethuglicans knew how to fix the problem they would have fixed it during the Dubya reign of terror to insure their re elections as well as guranteeing an election to the Chief Exec Office for John McLame. They didnt and they cant. As far as Obama calling Steele to tell him how he plans to fix what the GOP have broken Steele should know the rule of thumb on that one: the GOP will lie and tell you how they can fix the war they started and the Dems & the Pentagon will just shut up and just show you. The GOP are a disgrace to this country and its troops, dont just fire Steele fire the whole damn party.

    July 2, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. ART

    Is this guy Steel an idiot? A war of Obamas choosing, is he serious. This lawn jockey of the republican party actually said this with a straight face

    July 2, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Charlie in Maine

    Yeah, Well I am afraid I have to agree on this one he should resign. I'm not in the GOP (not a surprise if you've read my entries) so I usually don't comment on who their leadershio should be but to say: "Afghanistan, "This was a war of Obama's choosing." makes no sense whatsoever.

    First of all the war is in it's 10th year Obama is in his second. Second of all this war was niether the choice of Obama our President Bush. We were attacked by Al Queda and the Taliban. We did not choose this war they chose us. Now Iraq is another story. I think that had Bush not invaded Iraq (war of choice) Afganistan would look more like West Germany and less like Beruit.

    Fire Steele for what he says about Democrats? Not on your life, that's his job. They should fire hime for taking away from Bush one of the three things he ever got right as President: "Invading Afganistan" and giving the credit to Obama. That cannot be forgiven.

    July 2, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. CTYank

    Poor Mr. Steele- sometimes he needs to keep a notebook, to enable some sort of consistency in his talking points.
    Might reduce instances of shooting from the lip.
    Sorry, but what he says is an insult to the intelligence of any non-apparatchik.

    July 2, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Optimist-99

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

    Who is Steele speaking for?

    In their zeal to publicly oppose anything that Obama says or does, the Republicans will apparently commit perjury without worry or second thought. Heck, if 25% of Americans do not know that the Declaration of Independence was from England, then maybe 75% will assume that 9/11 happened last year and Bush had nothing to do with it.

    Does Steele not remember that the USA went to Afghanistan with a 'coalition of the willing' in pursuit of Osama bin Laden? What a sorry , unpatriotic joke as a RNC chairman.

    July 2, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. nate

    Cleaning up after Michael Steele's rediculous comments must be a tough job for Doug Heye. He is pretty good covering up the fact that Steele is a complete moron, and doesnt even realize that we have been in Afghanistan for 9.5 years... I have to agree with Bill Kristol on this one. I never thought I would find myself saying this, but for the sake of the republican party's respectability, get Steele out of there. He is giving republicans an even worse name.

    July 2, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Fred Riek

    As an Independent, I don't only think that Steele should resign, but the entire Republican Party should pack it in. I am mostly a centrist and I do not see any room for centrists in the Republican Party. Those few left have been targeted by the rabid tea partiers. The vitriole does nothing but cause the looniest extreme right wingers to consider the use of violence against those who disagree with their far out beliefs. I fear for our President in these intense times. If anything does happen to our President, I would place the blame squarely on the Republican Party that does nothing but fan the flames of those truly unAmerican extremists. It is time the voters say a loud "NO" to the Republican Party at the pools this November. No is a word that they have used often to thwart the desires of most Americans; it is time we return the favor and say no to all of them.

    July 2, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. David Scott

    this idiot should drop out... what an ass. What is a black man doing in the rip-publican party? That is a joke. rip-publicans HATE BLACKS. HISPANICS, CHINESE, JAPANESE. and so on.
    rip-publican party is for old, rich WHITE BIGOTS.

    July 2, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Grog in Ohio

    For once, I concur with Mr. Kristol. But I'd add that William "I get EVERYTHING wrong" Kristol should probably resign too, for being so consistently wrong.

    July 2, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Robert

    I am getting really sick of this party, the party of no, the party of no progress.

    This was not Obama's war. Bush started the war, justified or not!

    July 2, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Danny Cali

    Mr. Steele just say "NO" because your party is the party of big "NO" please say NO and NO and NO and NO...........!!!!!!.......NOPE.......!!!!

    July 2, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Hannah

    A war of Obama's choosing? Who are these liars? We wouldn't be there if bush hadn't taken us there. This is bushes war. And then he didn't even finish it.

    July 2, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "This was a war of Obama's choosing."


    You're getting W's personal, and ILLEGAL, and under-handedly off-the books funded war against Iraq confused with our current situation in Afghanistan.

    Furthermore....oh what's the use, just resign already. You're useless in your current position, and an embarrassment to tokens nationwide!

    July 2, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. C'mon People Now

    I think he should stay. He is doing a bang up job. Can't wait for the midterms. Of course I'm a Dem...

    July 2, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. Duck Fallas

    Have Joe Barton apologize to the insurgents.

    July 2, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. hayden zeke

    As a Democrat, I wish Snoop Doggy Steele would stay on. He is the best thing that ever happened to us.

    July 2, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co

    Once again the Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is out of touch with the world. Steel must have forgot the war in Afghanistan started long before President Obama became President

    July 2, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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