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. John Ellis

    Steele thought he could just make up things to suit his argument, after all Palin and Bush did it. Has there every been a party with less reason to exist? Now, the aim is to destroy as much of the economy as possible by blocking any legistlation to enhance their mid-term chances. Hellish. At least Steele's hilarious. Most of the rest of the GOP is frightening.

    July 3, 2010 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  2. Syphon Filter

    Funny, how the Radical right wing media portrays the Republicans as a party that is going to sweep the elections in November, but yet endorses candidates that believe that civil rights should be repealed, that social security should be privatized and that we should all bear arms and overthrow the government if they don't win in November. and as stated here, the RNC and the Republicans are in disarray and are constantly internally fighting, and apologizing to big business, instead of doing actions to help the American people. But I am not here to bash the Republican party because they are doing a fine job of it and as a registered Republican, I am sick and tired of the lies and spins just so that they can get elected. Instead of working for their constituents, they rather not do anything to move our country forward. the Republican party is a mess, and they need to stop this dirty politics business, and help the American people. .......Wake-up America and welcome to the freak show called, The Republican Party.

    July 3, 2010 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  3. Marc

    Michael Steele could not be a better friend for the DNC. If I were a Republican (and I'm not) I would want to see him out ASAP. I really can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm embarrassed for the RNC. No one should be this stupid.

    July 3, 2010 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  4. kevinC

    THs guy is just a big mouth looking for a shoe to move in. He is not smart, he is not even politically astute, but for one thing he would have been terminated long ago. Guess what that is!!!

    July 3, 2010 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  5. S. C. C.

    As a staunch Democrat I suggest that he resigns.
    The comment he made about Pres. Obama was
    totally incorrect – the Pres. was not in the Senate
    when we were in the Afghanistan. He needs to
    read his history.
    Novel idea: stead of vilifing Pres. Obama how about working
    with him.
    Note: The Democrats are aware that he paid
    the registration fee for Alvin Green and other
    non legal procedures.

    Michael Steele are you planning on running for
    Pres. in 2012.

    July 3, 2010 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  6. Bleeding Heart

    Another Republican moron!

    July 3, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  7. Michael...do not resign....

    You're right. The war is unwinnable. Stick to your guns. Even Pelosi agrees with you.

    120 Americans came home in body bags last month just to satisfy Obama's lust for war. Time is on the side of the Taliban...they just have to wait Obama out....

    July 3, 2010 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    Maybe once he's unemployed, he'll get a taste of what HIS PARTY has denied the other unemployed people in this country.

    We can only hope the liar gets back what he's dished out.

    Karma works in funny ways sometimes.

    July 3, 2010 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  9. novowel4me

    For the sake of the Democratic Party I totally support Steele retaining his position.

    July 3, 2010 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    He's in a spat with King Rush??

    Bye bye - or beg on your belly, Steele. Or maybe it's "off with your head" - whatever King Rush and Princess Sara say.

    July 3, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  11. trashcup

    The Party of NO does it again. NO to getting rid of Steele, NO to helping America join together and accomplish something.

    Just plain NO, NO, NO

    July 3, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  12. John

    Leave Michael Steele RNC chairman,between him and Sarah Palin the republican party doesn't have a chance in 2012.

    July 3, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  13. JohninTampa

    I am an Independent. I do not care what you guys do with your money, but you are paying good money to a guy who all by himself might destroy you. Your call. Don't ask ME for money or a vote.

    July 3, 2010 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  14. Leonid Brezhnev

    Steele is a jerk. He was a jerk when lt. governor of Maryland, and is still a jerk....but, he's making the repugnantcans look like asses, so keep him in.

    July 3, 2010 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  15. Roscoe

    That sound is the water swirling in the toilet.....with MS fighting to stay in the bowl.

    July 3, 2010 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  16. Bill

    “And he has gotten strong support from Republican leaders.”

    So who are the Republicans leaders that support him???!!!!!!

    July 3, 2010 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  17. grimjack

    I hope he stays as the RNC chairman. Is he really different from most other republicans with their revisionist view of history. To them, everything that has happened from jan 2001 to jan 2009 is either the fault of Clinton or Obama. The fact that he doesn't have the integrity to admit his mistake is nothing new. Having him remain as RNC chairman is the best thing for the democrats. Other then him running on a ticket with Palin, that is.

    July 3, 2010 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  18. Donnatella

    People are not stupid we all know why this token has not be fired on the spot, they want to look good in November, I would be money as soon as the elections are over win or lose, Michael Steele is a done deal. He should just quit with dignity, ooh that's right he is a republican they don't have that quality.

    July 3, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  19. Abdur Azad

    I do not understand why shoulde Steele resign at all? Is it a fault for a RNC Chairman to tell the truth? Mr. Steele has honestly expressed his mind that Republicans did not want to engage with Afganistan. It is a fact that President Bush invaded Afganistan after 911 terrorist attack (may be hot headedly). But the moment NATO forces could locate Bin Laden and was about to catch him and his gang, Bush turned his eye from Afganistan to Iraq. Not only that, to save Bin Laden President Bush refused to deploy some more troops there (in the Torabora area) in spite of the urgent call from the generals.
    It may also be mentioned that immediately after 911 tragedy not a single aircraft flew in the US sky except 4 or 5 plane. And those planes flew only to evacuate Bin Laden's family members from MA to KSA.
    Though late, Mr. Steele has unleashed the cat out of the bag.
    Thank you Mr. Steele.

    July 3, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  20. American And Patriotic

    I am proud of Him! all Americans especially Gods only son Jesus are proud of him, I'm going to cry...sorry !

    July 3, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  21. Lee

    The irony of his comments are that this is largely a republican war as Bush-Cheney are the ones who activated it. It has become a completely pointless war. We have not in any way better secured the US through this action. Sure we sort of got rid of the Taliban but it is not clear how that in of itself has helped.

    July 3, 2010 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  22. jj

    Good for him – or us. This CLOWN is the gift that keeps on giving!

    July 3, 2010 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  23. Ron

    Ah, the old "beltway" two step that the GOP knows so well. The last time I looked the President inherited this war and Iraq from the last President. I guess Republicans believe that if you say something enough times it eventually becomes true. They have been visiting a little river in Egypt too much "de-nile"! They would love us to forget all of the problems they left for this country but that isn't going to happen. How about all the millions of Americans that are loosing their unemployment check? You know, the millions you helped into unemployment by deregulating banks, wall street, big corporations and insurance companies so that we were put into the biggest financial crisis since the depression? Oh, and the TWO wars you got us into without a way to pay for? How about all the important issues that will help Americans that you voted no on and continue to do? Yes, I don't think we will be saying that the war is President Obama's war of his own choosing. GOP economic policy, "trickle down economics" which translated means, support the rich and piss on those who aren't rich.

    July 3, 2010 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. Joe B

    Michael Steele is a strong an inspiring leader! Don't call for his resignation because you can't take the truth! The problem lies with his detractors not him!
    He speaks very well, has charisma, is more articulate than Nobama and is very convincing. He should seriously consider running for president in 2012.

    July 3, 2010 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  25. joe

    what a moron

    July 3, 2010 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
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