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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."

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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.

By Garance Franke-Ruta  |  January 5, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

The GOP deserves better

I am a Democrat. I worked for the election of Barack Obama. I believe in the principal objectives of the current administration and its Congressional allies. AND, I want a strong Republican Party.

In a two party system it is essential that there be a balance of views and a loyal opposition capable of coming to different conclusions and willing to challenge the party in power.

In a two party system certain words are meant to govern the relationship between these parties: Critique, challenge, engage,discourse, dialogue, debate, compromise and joint government.

In an environment where one election ends, and the next election begins immediately thereafter, one is always campaigning. In an environment where success on election day depends on how much money one can begin generating the day after the last election to win the media game, cash drives everything. In an environment where one's base defines precisely who one is and how one is to act, the nature of that base dictates the nature of leadership.

The GOP has become the party of the angry South, the party of the angry white man/women, the party of the angry tax payer, the party of the angry Christian evangelical, the party of the angry heterosexual, the party of the angry media voice. You get the point.

But the GOP cannot prosper with that kind of base. And a weak GOP weakens the Democrats.

The weakness I speak of is a weakness of mind, soul and heart. The party whose proud intellectual tradition once impressed, has opened its arms to tea party inspired ideology, crazy conspiracists. The party whose members were once considered the most seasoned and mature of those who walked the halls of Congress has emerged as a party whose leaders act like petulant middle schoolers. Where is the party of Lincoln's emancipation, of Teddy Roosevelt's conversation, of Eisenhower's good sense, of Reagan's broad vision, of George H W Bush's wartime restraint, AND of George W Bush's calm certitude in the days following 9/11? How can this party that has a history of profound political, social and economic intellectual heft rely on the likes of Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, Drudge et.al.?

GOP. The Gone Old Party.

The GOP needs leaders who represent the best traditions of the GOP, who recognizes that narrow litmus tests so narrow membership that broad based leadership is impossible, and who carefully weighs what he says and how he says it. Mr. Steele's biography is not unimpressive especially when one considers how his family struggled to give him the benefits of good education. But he lost his way somewhere.

What I am saying here applies to most of the GOP leadership in the House and Senate. The GOP is not leading now because it has given away the ground on which it once proudly stood.

It is past time to climb that hill.

Posted by: trekker50 | January 6, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Michael Steele sounds like a flip-flopper. We can only hope the rest of the republicans are so decisive. We know they are all whiners. Hey why not pull cheney out of mothballs, oh yea they do that every week.

Posted by: sammsammus | January 6, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Could this be considered "dithering?"

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | January 5, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

After the "no notice" BCBS cancellation I'm going through (despite being paid up) due to a change in COBRA administrators, I will never vote for a Republican again, and I will urge all Republicans who are fighting health care reform to either commit suicide or leave our country.

Posted by: roblimo | January 5, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

What a joke!

The operative sentence here is the one about Steele making these statements on the Hannity show at the same time his book comes out.

The statements have one purpose: stir up controversy to sell more books.

Steele has one agenda and only one - self interest.

Once the money is in the bank watch for his reassessment of the situation.

He's pulling a Palin, singing "I can do anything better than her."

And all you folks who buy his dreck on paper? You qualify to receive and wear a "Sucker Born Every Minute" button.

Posted by: apspa1 | January 5, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

What a joke!

The operative sentence here is the one about Steele making these statements on the Hannity show at the same time his book comes out.

The statements have one purpose: stir up controversy to sell more books.

Steele has one agenda and only one - self interest.

Once the money is in the bank watch for his reassessment of the situation.

He's pulling a Palin, singing "I can do anything better than her."

And all you folks who buy his dreck on paper? You qualify to receive and wear a "Sucker Born Every Minute" button.

Posted by: apspa1 | January 5, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

What a joke!

The operative sentence here is the one about Steele making these statements on the Hannity show at the same time his book comes out.

The statements have one purpose: stir up controversy to sell more books.

Steele has one agenda and only one - self interest.

Once the money is in the bank watch for his reassessment of the situation.

He's pulling a Palin, singing "I can do anything better than her."

And all you folks who buy his dreck on paper? You qualify to receive and wear a "Sucker Born Every Minute" button.

Posted by: apspa1 | January 5, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

What a joke!

The operative sentence here is the one about Steele making these statements on the Hannity show at the same time his book comes out.

The statements have one purpose: stir up controversy to sell more books.

Steele has one agenda and only one - self interest.

Once the money is in the bank watch for his reassessment of the situation.

He's pulling a Palin, singing "I can do anything better than her."

And all you folks who buy his dreck on paper? You qualify to receive and wear a "Sucker Born Every Minute" button.

Posted by: apspa1 | January 5, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the Republicans is that their base consists of fat, stupid, retarded, toothless goobers. Democrats may be smug elitists f@gs, but at least they don't live in the friggin Middle Ages.

Posted by: bendan2000 | January 5, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, wonder what the Republicans thought they would accomplish with their obstructionist strategy. Michael Steele is finally facing reality when he states the Republicans have lost the trust of the American people.

First, the Republicans pulled this country into two Middle East wars (with the Iraqi venture based on deliberate falsehoods), and financed them on Chinese credit. This bill will be paid by our grandchildren. Second, they allowed Wall Street to do as it pleased, constrained only by its' own self-interest. When that bubble burst, instead of allowing the guilty speculators to face the music, they were bailed-out by hundreds of billions in taxpayer money with no strings attached. The economy was transferred to China and India in exchange for tax cuts for the wealthy. The American people may have short memories, but that kind of traumatic shock is hard to blank out. And please, no revisionist history – this all occurred in the Bush Administration.

So now, since they have been voted to a minority, what is their strategy? To cause the President to fail in order that they may regain power? And if to do so means they must destroy the voting middle class by denying them affordable healthcare and jobs with living wages in order to continue their program of tax cuts for the wealthy and unprovoked war, they will embrace that strategy?

Why would anyone choose to put such monsters in positions of power?

Posted by: shadowmagician | January 5, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

You left this charmer from Michael:
“But that’s what’s gotten us into trouble, when we walked away from principle. Our platform is one of the best political documents that’s been written in the last 25 years. Honest Injun on that.”

Honest Injun!

Posted by: edlharris | January 5, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

The old addage "you are never as bad as your worst loss opr as great as your biggest win" applies here, both Democratic Party and Republican Party have a long way to go before election day and either party can claim the "mantel from heavan" for the right to rule.
Democrats need to concentrate on governing, with or without Republican participation and do so fairly and judiciously. The American people will continue to reward Democrats for not dropping the ball and ignore Republican provacation to engage in partisan hack antics.

Posted by: tomniederberger | January 5, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

That snapping sound you hear is that of checkbooks shutting as would-be donors realize that the RNC's biggest cheerleader is sitting on his pom-poms. Sweet news for Dems!

Posted by: bitterblogger | January 5, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Where are the rightside wingnut posters NOW?!! :-)

===========

Must be Jake's nap time. Or as my elderly parents call it, "happy hour".

Posted by: jimk8mr | January 5, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Democrats should take no comfort in Michael Steele's foibles. We are doomed if we are merely waiting for the Republicans to self-destruct. Despite their raging schizophrenia and nihilist political tactics the Republicans have won the media message war for almost a year now.

Obama needs to realize that public relations are not just for elections. He needs to aggressively counter the Republican sleaze machine every single day. In an ideal world he would get points for being mature and rising above the fray. Unfortunately he is only president in this one.

Posted by: bidalah | January 5, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Where are the rightside wingnut posters NOW?!! :-)

Posted by: gregp1 | January 5, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

steele will be the next defeatist, loser thrown out of the Repub party and replaced with a competent leader.

The loony-left d-crat socialists will be thrown out en masse in 2010 and then again in 2012, and the RNC needs to gear up for these major victories NOW.

Posted by: LoonyLeft | January 5, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

This post has been alive and there are no trolls commenting. I do not believe the man whether it is optimistic or pessimistic. He is hired to be a liar and that is what he'll do.

I am somewhat to the left of center but I realize that we are going to have to be financially conservative next year. But as long as the pronouncements from the Republican Party are purely attempts to thwart Obama and when they are more concerned about protecting the insurance companies than working to get us affordable health care then I will not vote Republican.

The fools on the right who do not want RINOs do not realize that they scare off voters who would even go along with them to a limited extent on abortion and gun rights in order to get sound fiscal policy. I need to be confident that Republicans will support constraints on the financial industry, constraints that would be totally unacceptable to any other industry because we have a capitalistic economy.

Posted by: Gator-ron | January 5, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

This post has been alive and there are no trolls commenting. I do not believe the man whether it is optimistic or pessimistic. He is hired to be a liar and that is what he'll do.

I am somewhat to the left of center but I realize that we are going to have to be financially conservative next year. But as long as the pronouncements from the Republican Party are purely attempts to thwart Obama and when they are more concerned about protecting the insurance companies than working to get us affordable health care then I will not vote Republican.

The fools on the right who do not want RINOs do not realize that they scare off voters who would even go along with them to a limited extent on abortion and gun rights in order to get sound fiscal policy. I need to be confident that Republicans will support constraints on the financial industry, constraints that would be totally unacceptable to any other industry because we have a capitalistic economy.

Posted by: Gator-ron | January 5, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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