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Steele Speaks Out on Issues, Mfume

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the leading Republican in the U.S. Senate race, released the most detailed position statements to date on a number of high-profile issues, including the Iraq war, national energy policy, immigration and affirmative action.

Steele wrote that he does not support setting a timetable to leave Iraq. "Any politician out there talking about timetables and timelines is playing into the hands of our enemies," he wrote. On immigration, he wrote, "First thing's first: secure our borders and then we can deal with meaningful immigration reform."

The full document, which was prepared in response to a 10-question survey from the Baltimore Sun editorial board, is posted at

Steele also faced questions yesterday from state Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman over comments reported in U.S. News & World Report.

The magazine's Web site carried a story about a possible matchup between two black candidates: Steele and Democrat Kweisi Mfume.

If Mfume is his opponent in November, Steele said, Maryland voters would have to ask who's going to better serve them, "[someone] who represents all the people, or just one particular race?"

Lierman interpreted that comment as implying that Mfume, a former NAACP president, would represent black voters only. He called it "race-baiting as a way to divide the voters of Maryland."

Asked about it later, Mfume told the Associated Press that he was "disappointed" and said, "I guess Mr. Steele will have to explain what he really meant."

A Steele spokeswoman responded that "his focus is on bridging the divides that have separated Marylanders for too long."

Matthew Mosk

By Phyllis Jordan  |  August 8, 2006; 9:09 AM ET
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I am not sure how it is NOT race-baiting to say that certain constituencies need "their own" representatives. But it is the height of chutzpah to then turn around and say that merely pointing out that this "specialized representation" may hinder the full representation of a panoply of communities is somehow "race baiting." Sauce- gander, etc.

Posted by: KSingh | August 8, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Steele's positions show that he is an independent candidate that has the ability to pull quite a few votes from Marylanders of any political party. His answers put him clearly in the mainstream. When will Mfume release a similar survey? We have a pretty good idea of Cardin's views and his unimpressive legislative record, but we have no idea what Mfume's positions are.

Posted by: MK | August 8, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

More proof - if any more was needed - that Steele is an independent voice - wait, no, he's a Bush hack and a pawn of right wing Republicans. Wait, no, his statements are different than Bush and other Republicans. Wait, no, they raised money for him. I'm confused. Hopefully the nice people at the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun will clear it all up for me.

Posted by: ha! More Proof | August 8, 2006 11:46 AM | Report abuse

One word for Mr. Steele, "Slick"...

Posted by: Frankey | August 8, 2006 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Steele was Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. He is running in the Republican Primary. He has not collected the signatures to run as an independent.

Posted by: Independent voter | August 8, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Independent voter -- you are aware, aren't you, that independent is not simply a designation of non-affiliation with a political party? "Independent" is also an adjective that modifies a noun. In Steele's case, he's an independent Republican who isn't afraid to criticize the President.

It's interesting that Democrats have been calling for Steele to clarify his positions, and then when he does so in detail they dismiss it as "slick." It just goes to show that some people aren't really interested in substance.

Posted by: MK | August 8, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse


Was it his lack of fear or his strong desire to work behind the scenes and not actually campaign that made him criticize the President in complete anonimity until he was outed.

And as far as his answers go, maybe going to his website and actually reading them first would be better than just stating that "[h]is answers put him clearly in the mainstream."

His answer doing clearly put him in the mainstream. His answers are the most non-answer answers I have ever read. My kid's essay on what I did for my summer vacation is more articulate and substantive.

Posted by: KM | August 8, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Typo correction - I meant to say "His answer do not clearly put him in the mainstream."

Posted by: KM | August 8, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

KM -- I read his answers thoroughly and Steele is quite clear in them on the legislative initiatives he would support. His answers are much clearer than anything Mfume has done, and they are certainly much better than Cardin's record ("I voted against the war, but I vote to fund it."). Sure, the Democrat machine will try to spin this as Steele being "unclear," but I think voters are getting tired of their lies about Steele.

As far as criticizing Bush, he's done so publicly (read Bob Novak's column of a month or so ago) before the anonymous comments. Sure, Democrats want to say that Steele only criticizes the President anonymously, but that's simply untrue.

Posted by: MK | August 8, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The only thing I'll say about Steele is that anybody who uses the language of "playing into the hands of our enemies" should be ashamed of themselves.

On the more general question, are there people in this country who think we need MORE republicans in the Senate? Please explain yourselves.

Posted by: Jim Preston | August 8, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd be embarassed by the headline if I were Mr. Steele. Is it so unusual for him to speak on issues that its worthy of a headline? One would think a sitting Lt. Gov. would have spoken on issues long before this time. To me Erhlich/Steele and George Bush go together like peas in a pod. I'm interested in all of them retiring to private life. What's that summer song? Na,na,na,na, hey,hey,hey - Goodbye...

Posted by: Summer song | August 8, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"In Steele's case, he's an independent Republican who isn't afraid to criticize the President"....oh please that was a deliberate attempt.

Where is this independent persona coming from? Steele is a right wing "token" Republican..bottom line.

Again, Mr. Slick...just wait you'll see.

Posted by: Fran | August 8, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

In the Republican party, you can disagree with the top and still be a Republican. This is not the case with Democrats, who are attempting a Stalinist purge with Lieberman.

Proof of my contention is the Sunday talk shows, which regularly feature McCain, Hegel and any Republican the liberal media can find that will criticize the Bush admin. This is the typical wedge planted by the Washington Post, NYT and major networks.

Posted by: Joel | August 8, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse


In the democratic party you can disagree with the "top" and the party leadership will support you as in the case of Lieberman. The DSCC has stood behind Lieberman. What you can't do is disagree with voters and then expect that they will automatically reelect you as also is the case with Lieberman.

Joel, please look up the word "stalinist" before using it. Your lack of understanding of the issues is more "Bushist".

Posted by: Baltimore voter | August 8, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse


Even as an activist Democrat, I respect Republicans that actually follow their hearts rather than the party leadership. In the case of McCain, Hagel and any other Republican that might occassionally make a comment or two; they NEVER, EVER put their votes where their mouths, occassionally, are. And that is the problem of this so-called label of independent Republican. So, what good is it to occassionally criticize when you offer no alternative of your own or actually put up a fight when it most needs you.

An as far as what you call Stalinist purges of people like Lieberman from the Democratic party - for every one time the Democrats want to replace someone who has fallen out favor, the Republicans do it twice. Case in point, two years ago when the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, barely won the primary against Pat Toomey, a conservative well funded by right-wing elements.

And today alone, when Mr. Lieberman is facing a primary challenge, moderate Republicans Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Congressman Joe Schwarz of Michigan will both probably loose in the primary to far more conservative challengers funded by the right wing.

So, please save your Lieberman soapbox for your own side, cause boy do they need it.

Posted by: KM | August 8, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Stalinist accurately describes the depths to which some Democrats have sunk. Read Lanny Davis, no Republican in the WSJ today. I don't remember any comments on Arlen Specter's mother or wife or religion. By the way, 2 of the Republicans you mention are RINOs if I ever heard of them, Specter and Chaffee. We would be happy to jettison both of them.

I know a great deal about Stalin. He did not tolerate dissent. Sounds like your web buddies on Daily Kos.

Posted by: Joel | August 8, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Fran, how nice of you to resort to racism and call Steele a "token." Of course, that's par for the course with Steele's career. Just because he doesn't toe the liberal line he has people calling him "token," comparing him to an Oreo, and saying that his only political qualification is the "color of his skin." It's nice to know that Democrats think a black person can't have an independent mind and actually -- gasp! -- disagree with the liberal party line.

Posted by: MK | August 8, 2006 3:46 PM | Report abuse

No Jim, it is the people who are playing into the hands of our enemies that should be ashamed of themselves.

And Fran, you should be ashamed of your racist "token" reference as well.

Posted by: Rufus | August 8, 2006 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, the word "token" is looked at as racist...I would disagree.

I was speaking only as a "token" republican from a unexpected race not relating it to uncle tomming, or color of skin.

Wow, you minds are twisted I never used the words you used...and times have changed not everything means the same thing today as it did in the past.

It's like saying....Lieberman is a "token" for the Democratic maybe gain support from the Jewish Community.

I would consider myself (if it needs to be known) as a liberal conservative.

Thank you very much

Posted by: Frankey | August 8, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Token is indeed a racist term. Perhaps you didn't mean it as such, but it is. "Token" is used to describe minorities who are given certain prominence in majority-white organizations in order to put a good face on these organizations. The implicit statement in using this label is that the minority doesn't actually deserve this prominence, but is simply being used by white people.

Steele has endured this type of criticism by many, including the Baltimore Sun. It's a handy way for limousine liberals to dismiss any minority who doesn't agree with their paternalistic view that all minorities should vote for the "enlightened" Democrat Party. At its root, it's simply an example of racism, since people think that skin color should equal certain political views.

Steele threatens these simplistic views and his candidacy has upset liberals. That's why you see their paternalism coming to the surface in such a way.

Posted by: MK | August 8, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

To MK,'re all over the place with your response, which in turn to me represents confusion.

There is a bottom line to everything...and you simply don't have one.

You sir/madame...are full of Spin!

Posted by: Frankey | August 8, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Let me say also, this isn't a battle with me with being republican or's about the real issues of today...and Mr. Steele has yet to deal or show he has done something not just for the rich, but the middle class and the poor.

What about an agenda on Health Care?

Not on why he supports Tax Cuts for the Rich (which by the way I don't mind at all), but what Agenda's does he have to show for those who work hard everyday but still struggle.

Where are his true agenda????

My opinion so far, he's done nothing but talked about Bush and Mfume and honestly who cares.

So for those who want to put me in some liberal only column...take a hike.

Posted by: Frankey | August 8, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

My response is quite consistent. But if you want a bottom line, here it is: Steele makes Democrats afraid because he shows that not all minorities buy into the lie that the paternalistic policies promoted by liberals are good for minorities.

Posted by: MK | August 8, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

If you read Steele's answers you'll see that he has plenty of positions that help middle income and poor Americans. For instance, cutting taxes helps the middle class by returning more money to their pocket. It also helps the poor by spurring investment and business creation. The poor are helped by policies that reward job creation, not by policies that offer them a handout.

On health care, he supports health savings accounts, which are an excellent health care device for the middle class. He also supports making it easier for small businesses to afford health care. As for the poor and health care, I'll admit he doesn't have many new ideas. But no one does. There are very few realistic ideas about how to make health care affordable for poor Americans. The standard liberal answers -- universal health care or expanding Medicaid -- are fiscally irresponsible and will lead to poorer health care for all.

Posted by: MK | August 8, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

When you are given a big job with no power, and the few things you did say you were going to do, you don't do (i.e. death penalty report, juvenile justice reform, run for the Senate and wait until August to release your basic positions), you're a token.

When you believe that advocacy for your community isn't in the national interests, yet are supposed to be the great Black hope for breaking blacks natural support (blacks support larger government, particularly because a significant number of blacks are employed by government, blacks support affirmative action, blacks do not support the war and blacks understand that whether or not vouchers are allowed or not, the overwhelming majority of black kids will remain in defunded public schools, because it will take 20 years to build up enough private schools to even enrolled half of black students)for the Democratic Party by insulting us with gay marraige and....oh sorry that's the only position that Steele and the GOP can muster that blacks might agree with.

Speaking of independence, can anyone give me one policy position that Steele has taken that is opposed by the national Republican Party. Forget criticism, forget anonymous leaks, where are the independent policy positions. Now usually I'd find it assinine to argue that Steele isn't a Repub, as much as he runs from it to get elected, he can only run so far before being reigned in by his benefactors. And that is a token.

P.S. Kwesi Mfume has been one of the major architects of the agenda a national advocacy group that has taken positions of all sorts of issues from affirmative action, taxes, the war, gay marraige, and abortion. As well as having served as a multi-term Congressman, so you can't count all of that against someone who's sole public service was serving the Erhlich administration and thus has had no public positions.

Posted by: RCD | August 8, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Mfume at the NAACP was a joke. The NAACP has been losing clout for a long time and Mfume's tenure certainly didn't help it. Plus, he was asked to leave under a cloud, so I doubt his supporters will be touting his experience there too widely.

Because Steele doesn't toe the liberal party line, he's labeled a token. God forbid a black person disagree with other black people. Oh, I forgot, all black people are supposed to think alike. The color of one's skin is supposed to determine your political views. How insulting.

Steele's views on business creation, tax policy, and vouchers would, if enacted, prove much more beneficial than the typical liberal answer to problems in the black community -- throw money into social programs that promote dependence and public schools that do nothing to educate students. The liberals' ideas have been tried since 1965 and they have failed. Visit SE DC or Baltimore to see this first-hand.

Posted by: MK | August 8, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

MK, you still didn't answer the larger question to validate your assertion that Steele is an "independant minded" poilitician. Tell us all on what positions has Steele taken that differ from the Republican party stances? He's right there with them on social issues and the war in Iraq. May I also add that the latest poll indicates that 60% of Americans are opposed to the war in Iraq I(, so clearly Steele is now outside the mainstream in his opinions. So MK, show me the independence!

And just to agree with another poster saying that, "Any politician out there talking about timetables and timelines is playing into the hands of our enemies," is completely shameful. That's something Republicans have been saying b/c they don't have a plan.

Posted by: Mr. K | August 9, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

MK- I don't have any particular disdain for Steele-in fact he's better than most Republicans, but your views are wildly off base. 1.) "cutting taxes helps the middle class by returning more money to their pocket." No, not really. Cutting taxes has benefitted those in the top 1% of the income bracket most. Middle class people have received some return, but nothing like that of the truly wealthy. And the typical Republican response to poverty, is to help poor people find a job, instead of help them get an education so that they might have their own business one day, instead of living pay check to pay check by some minimum wage job that you claim these marvelous tax cuts help create. Its a short-sighted goal...and it offers no real solution IMO..

Second, "health savings accounts...are an excellent health care device for the middle class." Once again you're wrong. HSAs are wonderful for those that have $5,000 to 10,000 a year to invest in their medical expenses because that's the money that will be coming out of your pocket before the benefits actually start kicking in. The deductibles are extremely high, and although it offers a tax shelter...I think its fair to say that if every person in this country could afford to pay 10,000 dollars for their medical expenses, there wouldn't be a health care crisis. Sure it makes it easy on businesses, but it takes none of the pressure off of the employee. in fact it shifts the risk from the employer to the employee.

You have every right to vote for Steele, but please don't even attempt to say that his ideologies are geared toward helping the poor and middle-class...because they're not....

Posted by: KG | August 9, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"Any politician out there talking about timetables and timelines is playing into the hands of our enemies," is completely accurate. Some of you find it "shameful" because it betrays your treasonous value system.

Posted by: Rufus | August 9, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Mr Steel has a very persuasive mind. We must all learn from huim ni different ways. But while he is concerned about Iraq and thy war, he does not see the issues in other states. For Instance, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay, The Bay is under siege from the pressures of increasing population, and argicultural, residential and industrial pollution.

Another Issue of Maryland is Health.

Health concerns associated with diet and nutruition pervasive as the nation assesses its citizens health. Diet and inactivity are related to the top five leading causes of death in Maryland.

The way i see it is if America (USA) didn't have so much dam(n) food, we all wouldnt be fat lards like we are.

Just think of the kids who are very skinny and have no food, or not enough food.

Posted by: King Charles III | September 24, 2006 10:15 PM | Report abuse

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