September 28th, 2010
08:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Steele defends bus travel to 'marginal districts'

(CNN) - Days after Republicans blasted Michael Steele's "Fire Pelosi!" bus tour as "a colossal waste of time" and "the Michael Steele re-election tour," the Republican National Committee chairman argued that the road trip is playing a crucial role in energizing grassroots activists - even if the bus is spending plenty of time in congressional districts not in play this fall.

"The RNC is all about rebuilding our grassroots, which had been allowed to wither, by tapping into, and helping fuel, the energy generated at the grassroots level," Steele wrote Monday in a list of "talking points" about the bus tour e-mailed to the 168-member committee. The message was forwarded to CNN by a committee member.

Steele said that while the "immediate goal" of the tour is to elect Republicans in November, "it also is to strengthen the party throughout the entire country."

According to an internal copy of the bus tour itinerary provided to CNN last week, nearly half of the stops Steele is making on the cross-country trip are in House districts not listed as "competitive" by top political handicappers.

That schedule drew criticism from Steele's Republican critics, who complained that the committee is wasting precious money on a showy photo-op when it should be sending funds to state parties for voter contact efforts in targeted districts.

Related: Steele's bus tour draws crowds, but also critics

The trip's stated goal, according to the RNC's website, is to "regain Congress in 2010 and fire Nancy Pelosi from the office of Speaker of the House." Steele argued, though, that that the tour is not just about electing House members, but also Senators, governors, state legislators and municipal officers.

"The best way to do that, particularly in a midterm election, is to energize as many potential Republican voters as possible, which means going to GOP strongholds as well as marginal districts," Steele wrote in the e-mail, his second "From the Road" dispatch of the trip.

He said that ginning up grassroots energy, even in the Democratic-leaning districts and regions of the country where the bus is visiting, can have far-flung consequences.

"Once generated, voter enthusiasm spreads virally across the country, and is not contained within Congressional districts," he wrote. "The enthusiasm generated by the results of the Alaska Senate primary certainly had a material impact on the results in Delaware."

From the outset of his chairmanship, Steele has promised to re-shape the RNC in order to devote time and resources to regions and constituencies traditionally ignored by the national party, a goal that won him allies among committee members hailing from long-ignored parts of the country.

In his email, Steele cast the bus tour as part of that larger effort. "In the past," he wrote, "the RNC did not even bother to compete in central cities, most of the Northeast, and most inner suburbs, thus conceding huge numbers of seats."

The RNC also neglected traditional GOP strongholds, he wrote, "and lost scores of seats there as well, seats that were even more crucial because of the party's inability to make up those losses in the vast areas of the country where Republicans no longer sought to compete."

"For all those reasons, it is important that the RNC visit a very broad range of communities around the country, not just those that may have a competitive House race this Fall," Steele told the committee.

Filed under: 2010 • Michael Steele • RNC
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Vote Democrat or Bend over!

    Here 's the deal folks. The big business, special interest and exetreme candidates have taken over the GOPTea Party. It will never work! Election should be for the people and by the people. Now with help of the Surpreme Court ruling we now have corporations buying and writing policy which is dangrous. So, we must rise up and vote.The young, the old and the undecided must stand up and vote Democrat. The only way to put big business in check, is not to let them win! Micheal Steele has a deep rooted anti-colonial hatred to save his own neck.

    September 28, 2010 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  2. Not fooled

    Steele and the Pledge to America are failures. Both have nothing substancial to contribute to America.

    September 28, 2010 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  3. Grimm

    I'd love to see the day when elected officials do these few things: 1)Get elected on their own merit instead of slinging the most mud. 2)Remain true to the promises made to the voters during the campaign. 3)Do what's best for this country regardless of party lines.

    Now that would be a beautiful day...

    September 28, 2010 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  4. Marie MD

    And why wouldn't he. The rethugs talk about cutting back on spending money but why not waste some gasoline while you are at it as if TV (or ask your quitter twitter/facebook witch) wasn't good enough. I mean, you can't just hop on a plane to Hawaii every chance you get or spend thousands of dollars on a lesbian bondage club every night. I mean . . . . the koch brothers are going to file for bankruptcy after this election.

    September 28, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  5. Cheney and Armey are a couple of Dicks

    The "Fire Pelosi" tour is nothing more than another misdirected blame game that the republican culture of corruption is famous for. Nancy Pelosi did not give the wealthiest Americans a tax cut, an unfunded drug program, invade a country in an unnecessary war, bail out big banks, create the largest growth in government in modern times, or deregulate Wall Street that led to doubling our national debt. It was Bush/Cheney/republicans that ruined the economy, and drove us to the brink of a great depression.

    September 28, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. Cheney and Armey are a couple of Dicks

    Michael Steele may be inept and incompetent, but he is one of the brighter republicans. The new republican 'Plague on Americans,' will eliminate over a million jobs and add another trillion dollars to our national debt. Right about now, look for the GObP Baggers to be coming out with their new slogan, "National Debt Is Good Because It Gives Our Grandchildren Purpose."

    September 28, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. John

    MR. STEELE don't you have too ask SARAN PALIN and the TEA PARTY if these bus ride are OK,they are the one that run the REPUBLICAN PARTY right.

    September 28, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Clwyd

    The whole repulsive republican party is a waste of time. Why elect them when they only can say one word, "NO!" It is funny how they ran up $10 trillion of the deficit with bush's tax cuts and we are still adding to it as a result of them saying "yes" to all his programs and wars!

    September 28, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |