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. Anne

    As a black woman, I was actually glad to see Michael Steele heading the GOP; I like to see black people excel in the things they aspire to do, whether I agree with them or not. And, I expected that he would criticize President Obama on some of his policies. However, the tone of his criticism reminded me of how some black people like to tear down other black people when they achieve success, except this was different. It was like he had to prove to his fellow white Republicans he could attack Obama as hard as they could, so he could show he was one of them. Remember when Steele criticized Rush Limbaugh, calling him "incendiary and divisive", and the other Republicans criticized him for it? Steele could not apologize fast enough, making himself look like an "tom". Well, guess what....Michael Steele's tactics are coming back to haunt him; what goes around comes around. Let's be real....most of the Republicans don't like having a black president and they don't like a black man heading their party, either. I guess Mr. Steel was not white enough.

    July 3, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  2. Greg

    Who is Liz Cheney? Because her dad, Mr. 19 percenter was VP she has a voice in all this? This country would be best served if all Cheney's would just stay out of politics. They have the blood of thousands of Americans on their hands. Cheney's run from war while they send everyone's kids to war. They should be facing an international tribunal. They are traitors yet people like CNN look to them for commentary. And people like Palin for foreign policy. CNN Sucks.

    July 3, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. Russ H

    The idiot is like normal Repubican and being black. Open mouth, insert foot. I am not a republican or democrat, but if the republicans want a chance to win, they need to get get of Pelosi. Actually, we need to get rid of our whole government and start over and bring back the ones that started our consitution and independence. We did not have the lobbyists and corporations paying off our politicans back in those days.

    July 3, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  4. Hugo

    B in FL July 3rd, 2010 1:55 pm ET

    From Hugo – "the Dems have had control for 6 years now and we the middle class are reaping the fruit of their labors"
    Sir, you need to check your facts. The Dems were overwhelmingly elected in 2006 because the Repubs were doing such a bang up job and the economy was already tanking. The Dems took over in 2007 which means they have had a majority for 3 1/2 years. Also, in 2007 & 08 Bush used his veto pen like never before (didn't veto anything when the Repubs were in charge). So, please quit blaming the Dems for the ills of this country.
    Bill, yes you are correct, I over stated assuming that Obama would remain in control into 2012, 2006 to 2012, 6 years my bad. Additionally, I stated both parties suck what more do you want? Consider this and respond, Clinton balanced the budget by cuts to military and National defense programs, producing a balanced budget and domestic spending surplus, now what was the true cost of this?? 9/11 and 3,000+ deaths! Housing market crash, Fannie and Freddie, yes both participated however the Dems are the culprit. Result, an economic meltdown that has and will destroy us.
    Believe me there are enough treachorous culprits on both sides of this fence and I blame ALL of them for being subservient to their special interest masters! That is why I now drink the TEA!

    July 3, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  5. Bob Ramos

    Steele is the Democrat's best friend and the GOP's worse nightmare. No sooner than he starts to recover from a gaffe than he makes another one and thereby holds the GOP up for ridicude.

    July 3, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  6. Maryann

    This is just one of many stupid comments that republicans have made. You need to fire Palin, Limbough, Barton, Beck, Boehner, as well as Steele. These people are running off at the mouth instead of coming together to work for viable solutions. The rest of the world must thing that the US is crazy. We can't handle our own problems and always meddling in other countries' affairs. It is way past time to get our house in order. The President should drawn down troops as soon as possible!!!!!!!!!!

    July 3, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  7. Bill in Austin

    I hope he stays. He is one of the Dems best allies.

    July 3, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  8. A Happy Democrat

    No, no, no–keep him, PLEASE keep him. He is, as PA Gov. Ed Rendell said, "the gift that keeps on giving."

    July 3, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. JR

    Let me guess, he got support from Boehrer, Pawlenty, Limbaugh, Palin, Hannity and the other braindead members of the GOP that have such a problem with reality or history as it happened.

    July 3, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  10. sickofthisbs

    Hey Steele, I guess the RNC wants you to "Hip Hop" your idiotic self back to the "hood". I knew it was just a matter of time before they let you go. Lol!

    Obama/Biden 2012

    July 3, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. Bill from GA

    Awww! He looks so saad in that picture.

    With the job he's been doing, most any democrat would support him in his current job.

    July 3, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. Carl Unger

    Funny how Republicans slam Democrats over comments and policy, but when its their own, you do not see or hear of it on Fox News and its coomentators. Especially S. Hannity, L. Engrahm, etc.

    July 3, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. Nick

    What did you really expect the KKK of America to tolerate a black man as their leader?

    He was put in place when they lost to Obama, as a way to say "we're not racist!" But they really are.

    July 3, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  14. Pragmatic

    Best quote? A wise saying from my mother...

    "If you don't want to hear something a second time, don't say it the first time".

    July 3, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  15. phillip Marlowe

    He said the truth, like McChrystal, so now all the war mongering GOPers want to run him out of town there was a time when the GOP was against wars or for ending them. He stated a fact, no one in the history of warfare ever has won a land war in Afghanistan, not even the great warrior, Genghis Khan who conquered Asia and Europe but not Afghanistan.

    July 3, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  16. phillip Marlowe

    The last republican for ending wars was Nixon, he tried to end Vietnam and did after kennedy and LBJ escalated it.

    July 3, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  17. marie from michigan

    to use a friend's expression ... this guy is as dumb as a box of rocks.

    Was he not around after 9/11 to witness the overwhelming support for the invasion of Afghanistan, home of Al Quaeda at that time? Is he on drugs?? ... perhaps like Rush Limbaugh?

    This kind of pathetic and downright stupid leadership is why the Republican party is so fragmented and unstable. I say ... keep him around! If this is the best the Repubs have to offer, clearly they don't have a chance in 2012.

    July 3, 2010 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  18. Mike

    Democrats, please leave this guy alone. He is doing our party the greatest possible service.

    July 3, 2010 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  19. Proud American

    Is he seeking support from someone in his failed party? There always Sarah Palin waiting in the wings. Give her a call.

    July 3, 2010 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  20. Erasrhedd

    Big friggin' surprise. Republican attempts to re-write history to detriment of Democratic administration but even his own party can't swallow. I'm lot more worried when they swallow...

    July 3, 2010 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  21. Keith in Austin

    The GOP doesn't need Steele for a landslide victory in November! We have Barry, Harry and Nancy to insure victory!

    July 3, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  22. aliou in Jacksonville, FL

    Yeah, He should step down. But also many republicans have to step down because of the many lies that they are laying on the Dem and the Obama administration when in fact, they created the mess we are in. : 2 wars, huge debt, economy.

    July 3, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  23. The Unsub

    Oh Mikey,

    You made your bed, now sleep in it.

    July 3, 2010 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  24. BIll

    I love hangin' with this guy! Talk about a party!!! Bondage, oral sex, naked chicks, why wouldn't the RNC Patriots love this guy? Mike Steve Forever!!!!!!!

    July 3, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  25. LouieD

    The problem here is that Steele too blatantly personifies the willful ignorance that the GOP encourages in its base. Many Republicans don't like that kind of straightforward advertising and prefer someone more deceptive and devious.

    July 3, 2010 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
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