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GOP Lawmakers Rally Around Steele

By Ben Pershing

After several days of distracting and incessant coverage of his tiff with radio host Rush Limbaugh, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has clearly decided to start pushing back. He told The Washington Post that he is "in the business of ticking people off" and reiterated that he considers himself the de facto leader of the GOP. And, as The Fix reported this morning, Steele is looking to put his money where his mouth is, sending $1 million apiece to the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Now, some Republican lawmakers are returning the favor, rallying around their party chairman and seeking to put the storyline of Steele's shaky start behind them.

This morning, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) put out a gushing statement in response to the $1 million donation, saying, "Each of us in House Republican leadership appreciate Chairman Steele's early contribution to our effort to fight our way back to the majority. But even more than this generous donation, we appreciate his total commitment to winning the special election in New York's 20th Congressional District. He is deeply committed to rebuilding the Party in blue states, and he's putting action behind his words."

An NRCC aide said that the statement was deliberately crafted to signal that Republican leaders support Steele, and to highlight that he "has done a ton" of work in the race to fill recently-appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D) House seat.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) echoed that pro-Steele sentiment, and dismissed the idea that the party might be regretting its choice of chairman. "I think this dissension has largely been made up by the media," he said. "I think we have a lot of confidence in Steele as a Republican Conference."

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) had a similar take on the Steele-in-trouble storyline: "It's overblown."

Whatever their views of Steele, Republicans are united in their desire to stop talking about Steele, stop talking about Limbaugh and start talking about issues that actually help the party rather than hurt it. In an op-ed in the Post today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote that the focus on Limbaugh, said to be driven by Democrats, was a "diversionary tactic" meant to draw attention away from issues like President Obama's budget and the economic stimulus package.

(For their part, Democrats don't appear to be giving up on pushing the anti-Limbaugh theme. Earlier this afternoon, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee executive director J.B. Poersch sent out a fundraising email titled "Kowtow," alleging, "When Rush says jump, congressional Republicans say how high?" And the Democratic National Committee is asking for cash to pay for an anti-Limbaugh billboard in his hometown of West Palm Beach, Fla.)

The GOP's support of Steele does have its limits. While Republican lawmakers are happy to say they support him, they don't necessarily subscribe to his contention that he should be considered the current leader of the party or, as Steele put it, "at the end of the day, all roads are going to lead to this desk."

Nunes, the California lawmaker, disagrees. "We won't know who our leader is until we have a presidential nominee" in 2012, he said.

By Ben Pershing  |  March 5, 2009; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Campaign , GOP Leaders  
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This whole thing is to draw attention away from a failing President who is clueless.

Posted by: tbastian | March 5, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

While I've always understood why the Democrat symbol is the jackass, it took Rush to help me I understand why the symbol of the GOP is the elephant.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | March 5, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Coming from the party that invented the wedge issue, John Boehner calling the Limbaugh situation a "diversionary tactic" by Democrats is laughable hypocricy.

Posted by: jim95818 | March 5, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Talk about clueless! Rush seems to ignore the fact that obesity is a national healt care issue. Did someone steal all his mirrors?

C'mon, even a druggie can look better than that.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | March 5, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Steele might not be the head of the Republican Party, but as Chairman of the RNC he should at least have the authority to articulate the message of the Republican Party without being naysayed by a talk show host. I like some of Michael Moore's movies, but I can't imagine Tim Kaine publicly apologizing to Moore for disagreeing with his beliefs about what the values of the Democratic party should be. Nor can I imagine Moore humiliating Kaine the way Limbaugh felt was necessary to do to Steele.

This whole episode just reinforces the image of the republican party as intolerant of differences in opinion. The Dittohead party.

Posted by: pennycentury | March 5, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

This is absolutely ridiculous. With all the problems we have in this country and in the world today, we don't have time for this tripe. Democrats are really looking they really think the American people are so shallow and clueless that we don't see that you in mainstream media and the Libs and trying to manipulate public opinion - just like you all did during the campaigns? Oh, gee, I forgot, it actually worked for the FOOLS that voted for Obama.
I'm not a Limbaugh follower, and I don't really care what he thinks one way or the other. I do care that this country is being destroyed by such garbage as this!!

Posted by: sueweiland | March 5, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Above it states…..
"Whatever their views of Steele, Republicans are united in their desire to stop talking about Steele, stop talking about Limbaugh and start talking about issues that actually help the party rather than hurt it."
This says it all. The GOP will do whatever it takes to drive their myopic ideology for the sake of Party. That’s not unlike what the Kremlin dictated for 70 years. Where in the article does "the people of the US of A" come in and whatever is good for the country? For a group of self serving lawmakers like the failed GOP to suddenly wake up for the sake of fiscal responsibility is pure comedy. John Boehner, as the leader of the minority, keeps ranting the same GOP mantra. He obviously has not read any Obama policies, especially about taxes. He follows the Rove concept that if you deliver a lie enough someone will believe it. Look what that got us; 8 years of Bush. What Boehner espouses DID NOT WORK yet he and “they” still push the issue. He either needs to fire his staff for misleading him or learn to read. Party of Obstructionists and Fear Mongers will be with these Clowns of the Congress for a generation. Beside, we would not be in this mess had they not heavily pushed their de-regulation process since the 1996 Contract with America. Unfortunately Clinton signed them while distracted by Lewinsky. Then, I’ll also bet not a single Wall Street CEO is a democrat. They have fed off GOP these policies like rodents in a peanut processing plant.

Posted by: sd-mouth | March 5, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

to big mouth - Comrade aren't you just a tiny bit suspecious that Our Leader doesn't have this country's best interests in mind, that maybe ramming through his AGENDA in the first 100 days is more important to him? Seems obvious to everyone I speak with. Even those who voted for Him are now voicing grave concern that what he SAID and what he is DOING are hugely disparate.

Posted by: sueweiland | March 5, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Are the Republicans in really this bad a shape? Are they really publically treating their first black Party Chairman like a tokenistic stooge? And if they were so stupid as to name a leader that they had, and seemingly have, no intention of following; how are they ever going to right themselves and reestablish their brand and a base of voters in EVERY region of the country?

What was so boldly foolish about the behavior of Party’s elected rank-and-file over the Limbaugh affair? First of all you’re supposing to rally around your chairman. He is the face, and the voice of your party. When he’s wrong you are suppose to correct him in private, never in public. And when he is right (which he most emphatically was in the Limbaugh affair) you’re suppose to leap to his defense publically; even against your own misguided, possibly crazy followers.

Steele was and still is spot-on right about Limbaugh, and Steele was and is just the person who was suppose to do and say exactly what he said about Limbaugh. Serious academic analyses of the viewers and listeners of all the radio, TV, blog sphere, and internet loud mouths reveal that voters are first of all not truly politically motivated by their bull sessions of listening to their media stars. That is, the Limbaugh’s of the American political landscape are not “leading” in the political sense. The facts are that they do not shape or form voter opinion. They do not tell real voters how to vote. There is no evidence that voters go to the polls after listening to them and vote as they say to vote. There is no evidence that voters are undecided until these entertainers make up their minds and tell the voters who to vote for or what issues to support. And a careful analysis of their over the air or cable scripts shows that they are not attempting to do this either. So Steele was and still is right on that point.

Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer, a person who claims a personal partisan bias toward the Republican Party and the conservative ideological faction within that Party. But he is not a “party leader”; not a party apparatchik or functionary; he is not attempting to generate serious discussion or thought for the Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution or American Enterprise Institute. Limbaugh is not trying to recruit future staff members of Congressmen nor is he trying to recruit future members of Congress or the state legislatures. He is only trying to do what all entertainers try to do, put listeners in the seats or tuned to his over the air or cable or satellite broadcasts.

Posted by: rc115shepherd | March 5, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Republican party self-destruction is but the best show in town and it is a shame that some have stopped watching how Obama is buying the loyalty of Democrats and shaky Republicans by letting the earmarkers win this time. Sure, he's hopeful that he'll get his other reforms, but there's lots and lots of folks watching him and Congressional incumbents. The majority the Democrats hold now could easily be tossed away by a lack of intestinal fortitude on Obama's part.

Before you vote next time, be sure the incumbent -- whatever party they represent -- is REALLY worth returning to represent YOU -- not drug companies, lobbyist's clients or extremist blather from either side.

Hope this thought stays with and burns a permanent place within those of us who aren't willing to turn this country over to ANY political philosophy in return for an earmark.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | March 5, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Bush is gone so it's no longer the 'failed policies of the Bush administration' that's their target. Today it's Rush and tomorrow it will be someone else. Typical liberalism.

Posted by: AkCoyote | March 5, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"What was so boldly foolish about the behavior of Party’s elected rank-and-file over the Limbaugh affair? First of all you’re supposing to rally around your chairman. He is the face, and the voice of your party."
Like the Dems did with Howard Dean?

Posted by: sueweiland | March 5, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

If the Dow keeps plummeting, I think we can all expect more of this silliness to continue.

Posted by: BGuardian | March 5, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | March 5, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

For a week Rush Limbaugh has been milking this nonsense for all it's worth - advertising dollars. Suddenly it's the Democrats and the media who have been driving this train? Oh! the Republicans, Conservatives and whatever else they want to call themselves and their selective memory! It was NOT President Obama who suggested Mr Limbaugh and he have a debate (how totally absurd!); it was Mr Limbaugh on his radio show. The Democrats and the White House cannot be blamed for taking advantage of the situation created by Mr Limbaugh. It was not The White House nor the Democrats who have repeatedly said it is in the interest of this country that efforts to assist the people of this country should fail; efforts to redress a crisis of epic proportion created by policies with which Mr Limbaugh, Ms Coulter, etc., were in perfect agreement when those policies were incepted. There is an ongoing attempt by Mr Limbaugh, Ms Coulter, and apparently now Republicans in toto, to get the American people to look at these past events through the most narrow of selective windows. It didn't work during the election, and it is unlikely to be very effective now. There will always be a few diehards (some of the comments at this site can be referenced) who will cling to their outmoded notions in lieu of useful ideas.

Posted by: e2verne | March 5, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Uncle Tom Steele is laughable...even for a republican!

Posted by: kase | March 5, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Limbaugh is just another lame diversion from the GOP to lead Americans into an inane three ring circus instead of focusing on the real issues. They do it all the time, but the ploy is getting weaker each time. The empty party filled with empty people has nothing to offer and they will not go quietly as their demise as a political party becomes complete. They are now relegated to the National Enquirer level of entertainment. I certainly do hope that a valid and serious second party arises from the squalor of what was the Republican party.

Posted by: skolniks | March 5, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

So if the Dems retain NY-20 at the end of this month, then what? The GOP still hasn't come to terms with the consequences of losing this last election, and sadly they will throw Steele out like kitchen compost -- and probably the one or two people that will succeed him also -- before they do.

Posted by: Odquest | March 5, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

We already had the Presidential Debates. If Rush had the answers to our problems, why did he not run for President? I wish that Chicken Hawk Rush Limpball would run. Currently, he mouths off and does not have to worry about responsibility, let alone research and the consequences of his actions. He will not run for office because he is the quintessential Chicken-Hawk. It took eight years for the Republican Reactionary Neo-Cons to create this economic depression, and it will take a few years to resolve it. I know Rush Limbaugh is serious, and he is seriously demented. Rush Limball is an entertainer who is responsible to no one but his advertisers. Rush Limball, has never been elected to anything by popular vote. President Obama has more important people to deal with. There are 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, 50 Governors, the Department of Defense, business and industry leaders, and heads of states from around the World. He was elected to deal with the issues of the United States, not to help Rush Limball's advertisers.

Posted by: lynnlm | March 5, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

The simple repulsive truth about Rush, is not that he is morbidly obese, thrice divorced, and addicted to prescription drugs. Rush is a racist and misogynist. Do not be fooled, his show is not entertainment. Rush has some deep-seated issues, I believe that his soul is damaged beyond repair.

Posted by: lencho1 | March 5, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Arg! I can not concentrate to do any work if the neighbor's fat pitbull keeps grumbling, running back and forth long the fence. Anyway, what's up with this Bush Limbaugh? It looks like what he does now with his mouth is venting his bitterness and anger after the Republicans lost the election. He should already know that Bush administration ran the country into the costly wrong wars, into the current recession. That's why Obama/Biden won. Limbaugh should go away like Bush et al so Obama and his people can concentrate to work to save the country.

Posted by: scooterlibre | March 5, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse



who "da magic negro" nau?

Posted by: BOBSTERII | March 5, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Obama should have given $1 TRILION to welathy Americans and coverseas corporations and award crooked C.E.O.'s and our economy would be fixed. AM I RIGHT, YOU LOOSERS? IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING?

Posted by: BOBSTERII | March 5, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Rush's view of the republican party is an extreme by any standards. Just because he has a big mouth piece (and an uncontrolled one) does not make him a leader. He has never held any public office, did not graduate from college, did not serve in the military when his buddies went to Vietnam. The only thing going for him is his loud mouth. The only degree he ever got was an "honorary member of congress" given to him by some fellow republicans. Is he too chicken to run for office? If he thinks he has enough followers let him shut his mouth and do some civic duty to help this country out of the current conundrum. As a fellow republican I do not consider him as a leader. He is at best described as a whiny loud mouth who is trying to make hay when the country is focusing on other things.

Posted by: JohnMcCormick | March 5, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh, by the way the party leader traditionally is the person who ran for office. That is John McCain. Whether he lost or won is not the issue. He carried the republican torch during the election. I might have missed the event when McCain handed over the torch to Rush Loudmouth. But I don't see John McCain wasting his time arguing about who the leader of the party is. He went back to the senate to serve the country at whatever way he could. One thing Bush failed to do while in office was to put Rush on an airplane and sent him to Iraq. Stil it is not too late to send him to Afganistan or drop him in the mountains were the taliban prowl and watch what happens to him.

Posted by: JohnMcCormick | March 5, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: bgreen2224 | March 5, 2009 4:43 PM said:

"Talk about clueless! Rush seems to ignore the fact that obesity is a national healt care issue. Did someone steal all his mirrors?

C'mon, even a druggie can look better than that."

You're right...Look at President Obama. Dang...that was just way too easy.

Posted by: Jackbit | March 6, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I watch too much of the news on television and especially the Internet. What I see is that the Republican Party is in deep self-destruct mode and they need to keep the conflict with Rush Limbaugh alive to stay afloat, just as they did with Monica Lewinsky. That worked for them against Clinton and they believe it will work for them now. If the people really see the sickening lack of contructive ideas coming from the Republicans (see the last 12 years), they will desert in-mass. The Republicans are using the Rush flack to mask their lack of intelligent input. They seem to believe that you don't have to offer anything of substance if you can provide enough "sexy" distraction. It is time for a new third party that could quickly become one of the new two-party system. Maybe this one could represent the people instead of the party. Read anything the Republication Party puts out and count the number of times they repeat "Republican Party" compared to the "American People."

Posted by: justworried | March 9, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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