July 3rd, 2010
05:19 PM ET
10 years ago

RNC chairman seeks support amid calls for resignation

RNC Chairman Michael Steele spent Saturday calling fellow Republicans to explain his controversial remarks on Afghanistan and trying to build support against calls for his resignation.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele spent Saturday calling fellow Republicans to explain his controversial remarks on Afghanistan and trying to build support against calls for his resignation.

Washington (CNN) – Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele spent Saturday calling GOP lawmakers and elected party officials to explain his controversial remarks on Afghanistan and to try to build support against calls for his resignation.

“He is reaching out to prominent Republicans, members of Congress, senators and members of the committee,” an RNC spokesman told CNN on Saturday. “And he has gotten strong support from Republican leaders.”

Steele is under fire from fellow Republicans for saying at a fundraiser Thursday in Connecticut that the war in Afghanistan “was a war of Obama’s choosing.” The RNC chairman also said that "This is not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”

Steele’s statement contradicts the fact that the U.S. led a NATO coalition with overwhelming public support to invade Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Steele’s remarks were recorded and posted on YouTube.

Republicans ranging from Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol to Liz Cheney have called on Steele to step down. Former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson also told CNN that Steele should resign. On Saturday, The Washington Times reported that North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth was considering challenging Steele when the RNC chairman’s election occurs in January, and Politico quoted Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, urging Steele to step down.

Unless Steele leaves on his own terms, right now it appears as though he will remain in his post until his two-year term as chairman ends early next year. It requires a vote by two-thirds of the 168 members of the Republican National Committee to remove a chairman from office, a high threshold both numerically and politically. At this time, it would be difficult to convince that many committee members to vote to remove Steele as chairman, several committee members and senior GOP strategists told CNN. Politically, there is very little appetite to showcase this internal party fight four months prior to the midterm elections.

“People are frustrated,” an RNC member, who spoke freely on the condition of anonymity, said in an interview. The RNC member said the hope is to convince Steele that “He shouldn’t run for re-election.”

Steele has not indicated if he plans on seeking a second term as head of the party.

Steele’s tenure at the RNC has been marked by electoral successes and public relations blunders and questions about his management. Since Steele became chairman, Republicans have won the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia, a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, and a U.S. House seat in Hawaii. Yet, Steele’s off-the-cuff remarks have gotten him in trouble with fellow Republicans including his much publicized spat with conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. He has also come under fire for some questionable spending by the committee and for lack of oversight of the RNC’s finances.

“We were just starting to make some progress, unifying the party, coordinating our plan,” said another RNC member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “And this is the latest slap at that.”

Updated: 5:37 p.m.

Filed under: GOP • Michael Steele • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. NYT:"during this election cycle big oil has paid 12.8 million in contributions, 71% to Republicans"!

    Careful, what you say Mr. Steele or you will be back at your former day job on the lawn of some rich white Southern neo-con, holding the reins to his daughter's pony.

    As a liberal, I want you to continue to hold the "reins" to the Party of GObP!

    July 3, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. Patricia Horning

    I have not given a donation to the RNC since Michael Steele became Chairman; I will not donate until he is gone. He would do all Repulicans a favor if he stepped down and joined the Democrats where he belongs.

    July 3, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. maf

    "Unifying the party, coordinating our plan", which is WHAT???
    Just say NO???
    The only PLAN you have is to go back to the same crap that got America into this mess!
    You are certainly not playing nice in order to get clear of the problems.
    The Party of NO, with some infighting and backbiting is bent on destruction, certainly America's if not their own party!

    July 3, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. christian

    Keep Chairman MAOsteele...ooops!

    July 3, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. Seth

    I don't blame Steele for this, he was just following the Republican/Conservative/Tea-Party Line: Blame Obama for everything!
    They will next want to tell you that Obama caused WWII and Vietnam, – Wait they already tried that, remember that attack that he was an appeaser like WWII Chamberlain.

    Hey Republicans – Last night I stubbed my toe and I said; darn it Obama you sneaked into my house and rearranged my furniture so that I'd stub my toe.
    And when you lose the Mid-Terms I'll join with you in calling Obama a witch.

    July 3, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. Steve

    Michael Steele is wasting his time wooing the GOP. He should concentrate on getting support from Rush Limbaugh and the folks at FOX news.

    July 3, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. 8 Years of "Trickle Down" Economics has only left a wet spot on working America's shoes!

    MEMO: Rabid Nazi Committee

    SUBJECT: Supportive Talking Points for our Furhrer Steele

    Please portray this a smear campaign against our leader. State hat hes is a victim of a "gotcha journalist" taking his statements "out of context" to be used by the "lamestream" media to further the "socialist agenda" that is being "forced down our throats" by a President that is really from Kenya.

    Fascism Forever!

    July 3, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. doug

    This type of stuff happens within a party of free thinkers, this is completely uncomprehendable to Democrat lib lib sheep.

    Republicans have different views, they have never put a man at the top who thinks that you should put your boot on the neck of your fellow Americans who disagree with you.

    July 3, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  9. Steve

    A true test of Republican leadership...or a demonstration of a lack thereof...

    July 3, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    He is far past the point of support. His demerits on performance have been too many, too frequently.

    July 3, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  11. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    I hope they keep him forever.
    I'll say again, the only thing funnier than his remarks about Afghanistan being Obama's war was the woman nearest the camera nodding her head in agreement.

    Michael Steele, bad for Republicans – Good for America.

    July 3, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. dennis

    This is just another CNN article placed here by CNN to collect the mindless babble of Liberal Democrats. If you don't believe me, read all the postings to follow. Republicans will be called "thugs", funny how hateful speech just as this are never "moderated" by CNN Censors. Seems people forget very easily Liberal Democrats took over our Government in 2006. Can anyone remember our stock market was on the rise, housing was on the rise, unemployment was around 4%, incomes were high and rising higher. Now look, Obama has been President for about 500 days, and our dept has gone up about $50 Billion a Day since he was sworn into office, unemployment is 10%, wages are falling, bankruptcy is rising, and there is a Carter Democrat Malaze taking over. Democrats and their Liberal Allies are distorying our country on this Independance Day!

    July 3, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  13. Dick M.

    Bye bye, Mike.

    July 3, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  14. John J, IN

    Read this "Republican leaders":

    You will not get a DIME from this lifelong Republican while a clown like Steele is in charge of the RNC. Wasting my money, meeting at "adult" clubs, private jets, trips to Hawaii, and gaffe after gaffe after gaffe.

    Honestly, I would rather see Obama re-elected than support this clown.

    So there.

    July 3, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  15. hippieprof

    Oh, I do hope Steele is able to stay. There just aren't enough GOPers out there who are so able to put foot in mouth and help us Dems....

    July 3, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  16. DENNA

    Boss Limbaugh has given the order. You are toast.

    July 3, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. Willy Brown

    Hang in there Steele. It's only the democrats and CNN that wants you out!

    July 3, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  18. GL

    The only reason Steele still have his job is because the Republicans don't want to bring attention to their all ready racist party more racist tension by firer Steele. Steele being black is what is saving his back you know what.

    July 3, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  19. christian

    Where are the Red Guards rallying to chairman Maosteele's bugle? Oooops

    July 3, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  20. GL

    He is reaching out to prominent Republicans, members of Congress, senators and members of the committee,” an RNC spokesman told CNN on Saturday. “And he has gotten strong support from Republican leaders.”

    Of course Steele have strong support because these racist fools don't want to look like the party of racist, but we all know the Republicans are the party of hate and racist. So go right ahead in keep Steele as your chair leader because we already the real reason why the party of HATE AND RACIST will keep this clown, Steele.

    STEELE is no Obama and this is what the Republicans party get trying to select Steele because he is black to go after President Obama. Black on Black , nice try Republicans but it failed just like all your other tricks will fall. Steele is a great gift to the Democrates so we really don't want to see him go.

    July 3, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  21. KLS

    Maybe Steele is in the early stages of alzheimer's since he forgot the war in Afghanistan was started by George W. Bush shortly after 9/11.

    If our nation had stayed the course in Afghanistan with the full support of our allies, instead of moving the bulk of your military resources into Iraq, maybe all of our brave men and women in uniform would be home.

    God Bless our Miliary!!!

    July 3, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  22. once upon a horse

    remember when Michelle Bachmann told Steele "U da Man!!" a few months back? Maybe he should call her and see if she will back him up. Call Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the like to see if they will back him up. Better yet perhaps if he were to call President Obama himself from da "hizzy" to see if he has any pull. One thing though is for certain, I doubt if Jessie Jackson nor Al Sharpton would offer much help on this one.

    July 3, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  23. Bob of Lompoc

    We support you Mike. Stay in there and keep your head up. You'll win in the end.

    Signed: Barack Obama
    Nancy Pelosi
    Harry Reid
    Millions Of Democrats

    July 3, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. Ragnar Danneskjoield

    Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, from Alexander the Great to the British, the Soviets and now the US. It is neither winnable nor affordable.

    July 3, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  25. jackson

    This is so sad. He was a pawn. This man has looked like an idiot from the beginning and he's only made things worse with his idiotic comments.

    July 3, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
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