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. Jerry Bishop

    This guy Steele had my utmost respect. Not anymore. I think his mistakes are purposeful and are meant to help Democrats and OBama. Do something about Steele. Everyone I talk to and am around thinks as I do. It is sabatoge by Steele. Maybe the Tea Party is where we conservative Rupublicans need to be! This is getting out of hand!

    July 3, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  2. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    wonder why the NAACP, Black Congressional Caucus, or the Black community as a whole has not come to the defense of Mike Steele. Oh yeah, that's right he turned his back on all of them when he decided to take the job of being the counter African American for the GOP to Barrack Obama. Now that' he's burned his bridges with so many I think he'll find out who his friends really are. Although I am NOT a big fan of the GOP nor Mr. Steele in a way I feel sorry for him. The GOP used him in a big way and now they are going to kick him to the curb more than likely. Was it really worth it Mike?

    July 3, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. CaliforniaBC

    I say just let the GOP continue fighting amongst themselves all the way through the election.

    July 3, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  4. JoeC

    Steele shouldn't resign. He provides great fodder for the opposition party with his stupid remarks. He can backpedal all he wants but the people will remember only the outrageous remarks, such as this latest Afghanistan comment.

    July 3, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  5. D.

    Does he not know they would like to have a person with a whole lot less pigamentation? He needs to hear from the GOP WIZARD of ILL,, I mean NO, Rush Limbaugh.
    He is the leader- the others just want to believe they are. He should have spoken at Senator Byrd's funeral although Mitch McConnell was good. Rush could have jumped up and down as the congregation chanted his name.

    July 3, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  6. A keen observer

    Steele is the gift that keeps on giving for the Democrats.

    July 3, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  7. Mesa Mick

    NO! PLEASE! Don't dump this chump...

    Americans need to see just how out of touch and regressive the rethuglicants and the GO(B)P obstructrionists really are and this guy is doing a noble duty for all of us "real" Americans by constantly reminding us of those things...

    July 3, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. jules sand-perkins

    It's not just about Mr. Steele's Obama/Afghanistan comments: the series of mistakes that the chairman of my party has made gives us an unrealistic image.

    July 3, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. Gil

    Why should they call for his resignation when the whole of the repuglican party shouldresign. Anti-American and pro Big Business, Big Oil and Wall Street!

    July 3, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  10. works for me

    Keep him in... pleeeease

    July 3, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  11. Hugo

    It takes a patriot to know when to step aside Mr.Steele. You have served you purpose for the party, now step aside and allow someone that perhaps may be better suited and more capable to lead the charge. You have done your duty perhaps Rahm can set you up with a sweet government job....

    July 3, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  12. joe in TN

    Sir...Your lack of patriotism, lack of respect for the President, lacking sense of fair play, inability to grasp of reality, and a selfish need to "rule" the party has completely alienated you from your support.
    THANK YOU !!! for your help on behalf of the Democratic party. Looking forward to November, and your early, shameful, slither-off-into-the-sunset.

    July 3, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. Mark Ferbet, KCMO

    The reason the Republican Party is so fractured right now is they can't seem to stay on message. This was a prime example of the RNC and the Chairman not being on the same page as the Minority Leaders.

    The Party hasn't gotten its act together. They have gone up to Capital Hill for the past year and a half and spent the time when they should be working... just saying No. This is from a lack of leadership. Steele should probably step down, but by doing so, it will take the focus away from the Midterms, and I can guarantee that will favor the Democrats.

    Besides, Steele not only had his facts wrong on this statement, he apparently decided to use a stump speech right out of the Liberal Left of the Democratic party.

    Isn't the Republican Party the War Party?

    July 3, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  14. Tom Gwin

    The bigots at Fox news and many Congressional Republicans tell bald faced lies all the time (recall Health Reform). Why start worrying about public dishonesty now?

    July 3, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  15. Jess C

    More of the same GOP lies and this from their mighty RNC chairman! Between Steele and Boehner, is there any credibility left in that party at all? Then, when you toss in the likes of Palin, etc., it gets worse and worse. Who, with any concern for this country at all, could vote GOP at this point? They are devoid of solutions; power is all they want. NO to GOP.

    July 3, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  16. rob amiot

    Steele needs to step down. It is absolutely nuts to have this loose wire prompting so much contraversy while the Repubs are over coming the Democratic party – Citizens are leaning the Republican way, while this wing-nut is screwing up time and time again – First the pornographic luncheons in LA – no pun intended – just a poor choices for law makers to hang out – truckers and dirty old men like me do....while not reviewing history and then making dumb comments about places he doesn't understand –

    He needs to go – One nut (in the White House) is bad enough – a second one running the party to "over throw" Obama, doing even more damage or displaying more stupidity ....No thanks Mr. Steele – drop the stupidity and study the past – you will be part of it in the future.

    July 3, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  17. John

    Michael Steele is an idiot, was an idiot when he "served" as Lt. Governor in Maryland and was chosen for his position only to counteract Obama's skin color. His entire tenure has been marked by mistake after mistake and if he had any pride and self-respect he would do the gentlemanly thing and step down, of his own volition. He is the Republican party's version of Joe "Foot in his mouth" Biden. If the Party allows him to stay in his position it should be with the absolute understand that all of his remarks would be vetted ahead of time. Currently, everytime he opens his mouth he hurts the Party. Face it Michael, it's time to go.

    July 3, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  18. El Gordo

    They can't fire the only Black Republican. I like Steele myself. Now that the Mark Sanford Argentina scandal is history, Steele is the only source of Republican fun! Keep Steele!

    July 3, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  19. DWech

    Well, I'm not surprised at the comments from Steele. His sole mission seems to be saddling Obama with blame for all that is wrong, and whitewashing GOP mistakes. Afghanistan was Obama's choosing? He wasn't in a position to choose anything until elected to Senate in 2004 - so he's to be blamed for a war he didn't start, couldn't have started, and is trying to finish? Unfortunately, Steele's comments are mirrored by many conservative politicians and citizens across the country; ignoring facts in pursuit of an ideological victory. Perhaps Steele should take a little time off - and read a textbook on recent U.S. history.

    July 3, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  20. AK Steve

    Steele speaks on behalf of the GOP. And they are obviously a deluded bunch or sorry old losers.

    His comments on proposterous! This guys must think we are a bunch of idiots. Obama "choose" this war? The US didn't "actively prosecute" this war? What the H@!! reality is this guy living in.

    The REPUBLICANS both "choose" and "prosecuted" this war. Now they want to blame it on Obama?

    Good God... people actually vote for this gang of lying thugs?

    July 3, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  21. bigtexaslova

    Steele, has proven to be the token that keeps on giving.
    Such a simpleton and a SELL OUT ... I am sitting here enjoying
    it all with my big bowl of popcorn.

    I can't wait to vote again and I vow to take a car load of with me to the polls .
    As long as you have a pension and healthcare Republicans could care less what happens to the average american .

    July 3, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  22. Squirt South Carolina

    As a lifelong Democrat, thank you, Michael Steele, for showing the country what a bigotted, do-nothing, business-is-always-right, Democrats- are-always-wrong party the Republicans have become over the last 60 years!! Blaming this administration (and I do NOT agree with them, all too often!) is absolute lunacy. George did it...not Barak, you idiot!!!

    July 3, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  23. Jeff Spangler

    What are self-styled black conservatives trying to conserve?

    July 3, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. James

    He should resign because he did not understand what he stands for as a republican. He is just a good puppet and I hate to see him continuing embarrassing for us as a black person.

    July 3, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  25. Ed Fl

    Hey Michael you should be able to get the C STREET groupies to join you in L.A at the pornhouse ,that way even if they won't support you all of you can have a good time and split on good terms.Heaven forbid that you may have to go back to being just any other African American citizen that is despised by the GOP.

    July 3, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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