Steele's pessimism riles campaign committees
Updated 7:55 p.m.
By Garance Franke-Ruta
Democrats crowed and the National Republican Congressional Committee lashed back after GOP chairman Michael Steele said his party was unlikely to retake the House in 2010 and lacked the support of the American people.
Steele's remarks came in an interview with Fox News Channel talk show host Sean Hannity Monday evening that accompanied the release of his book "Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda," and the party chairman reemphasized his surprisingly pessimistic take on the GOP's future during a Tuesday morning "Today" show appearance on NBC.
Asked by Hannity if Republicans would retake the House of Representatives in 2010, Steele replied, "Not this year."
"We're going to see, I think, nice pick-ups in the House," Steele said. But as for the number of seats that would be won, "I can't give a number yet, because like I said, we're just now beginning to look at the races," he said.
The GOP campaign committee responsible for trying to retake those seats pushed back against Steele Tuesday. "The NRCC's goal as the campaign arm of the House Republican Conference has always been to recapture the majority in 2010. Independent political analysts and even liberal columnists have stated that Republicans have a very real shot at taking back the majority in 2010. Make no mistake about it, we are playing to win," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
And Steele backpedaled Tuesday night in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews.
"I agree with [those] in the party who believe that we have real shots this November, and I'm playing to win as well," Steele said. Asked by Matthews whether the Republicans could win the House this year, "Yes, we can."
Steele also told Hannity he was uncertain about whether the GOP was even ready to resume leadership of a congressional chamber, thanks to the beliefs of some of the current crop of contenders.
"I don't know. And that's what I'm assessing and evaluating right now. Those candidates who are looking to run have to be anchored in these principles," he said of the conservative values he laid out in his book.
On "Today," host Meredith Vieira pressed Steele about comments in his book saying that Republicans "screwed up" and "don't really have the support of the American people right now."
The reason, Steele said, was that "we moved away from those fundamental principles that have defined us for generations, those things that anchored us, whether you're talking about national security or the economy or health care, whatever the issues."
Democrats took delight in Steele's remarks. "If the NRCC hasn't convinced the Republican National Committee chairman they can win, it's no wonder that Tea Party activists, Republican small donors, and Republican House Members are not confident and have failed to invest in the NRCC," said Jennifer Crider, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
"For all their overly optimistic spin the facts remain: Republicans are in the midst of civil war, the NRCC has merely $4 million dollars in the bank, more House Republicans are retiring than Democrats, the Republican brand is still at historic lows, and now even Republican Chairman Michael Steele is questioning whether House Republican candidates are principled. Ten months from Election Day and House Republicans are still in disarray," she said.
January 5, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
Save & Share: Previous: Obama administration suspends transfers of terrorist suspects to Yemen
Next: Health-care talks resume among Democratic leaders in Congress
Posted by: trekker50 | January 6, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sammsammus | January 6, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | January 5, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: roblimo | January 5, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: apspa1 | January 5, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: apspa1 | January 5, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: apspa1 | January 5, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: apspa1 | January 5, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bendan2000 | January 5, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: shadowmagician | January 5, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: edlharris | January 5, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tomniederberger | January 5, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bitterblogger | January 5, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jimk8mr | January 5, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bidalah | January 5, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: gregp1 | January 5, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LoonyLeft | January 5, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Gator-ron | January 5, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Gator-ron | January 5, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.