Steele Puts Plates on the Table
Bill Clinton had them, but not George W. Bush. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said he wants them -- and is daring President Obama to get a pair.
We're talking about D.C.'s "Taxation Without Representation" license plates, that little metal protest affixed to most cars in the District. The DMV now issues them automatically in support of a full representation in Congress -- that hot-button issue that Democrats love and Republicans hate.
On Friday's "Politics Program With Mark Plotkin," the radio host asked Steele if his Ford Explorer had the slogan plates. Steele wasn't sure but promised to "absolutely" put them on. That will make him, as far as anyone can remember, the first RNC head to drive around with what he calls "an important symbol."
Um ... did he check with any other GOP bigwigs? Did Steele step into another mess?
Very few Republicans on the Hill support full-voting rights, although the local GOP is thrilled: "It's the first time we had a national committee chairman talk about D.C. voting rights to the point where he's challenging the president," said Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Party. Although the last Democratic president sported the tags, Obama has refused to put them on "the Beast," his tricked-out presidential limo.
"This is a profile in courage by Steele," said Plotkin, calling Obama -- who got 93 percent of the District presidential vote -- "an ingrate."
Plotkin ran into White House senior adviser David Axelrod at Friday's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner and started lobbying about the tags. Plotkin said Axelrod wasn't too encouraging, telling the longtime agitator, "That's your thing." He also saw Steele and immediately started bugging him. Steele said his staff listened to the show earlier that day and the plates were "already on."
Not quite -- as of yesterday, Steele's Explorer still had the plain "Washington D.C." tags. "The staff is actively working to update the license plates," an RNC spokesman told us.
The Reliable Source
June 23, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
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