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At SRLC, mixed support for Steele from RNC members

NEW ORLEANS -- "What am I going to say to Michael Steele?"

Standing outside a reception at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, W. Ross Little Jr., an RNC committee member for Louisiana, was pleading -- somewhat tongue-in-cheek -- for advice from a friend for when he met with his party's chairman.

Little did not support Steele in January 2009, when he was elected to run the party, so I asked whether he agreed with North Carolina RNC committee member Tom Fetzer's letter asking Steele to resign. "I'm just not going to comment on that right now," said Little, walking away.

The never-ending Steele drama -- Fetzer's letter piled on even more attention, right when an army of reporters was about to descend on this meeting -- is hard to avoid in the halls of the downtown Hilton where Republicans are meeting this weekend. But Steele is still scheduled to speak here on Saturday afternoon, and not all RNC members shared Little's reluctance to back him.

"I support Michael Steele," said Sharon Day, a national committee member for Florida. "He's doing what he said he'd do. He's raising a ton of money and helping Republicans get elected." She shrugged at the news of Fetzer's letter. "It's just people being people," she said.

My colleague Amy Gardner spoke to Pat Mullins, chairman of the Virginia GOP, who was even more outspoken in his support for the chairman -- while suggesting that Steele did need to step up enforcement of the RNC's finances.

"We’ve elected him for a term," said Mullins. "That term’s up in January. At that point he can decide whether he wants to run again or not run again and then you do a referendum on his tenure as Republican Party chairman. He was very helpful in Virginia throughout our campaign, and I don’t think we need to get into a divisive intraparty thing like that in the middle of congressional elections."

Reid Wilson reports that supporters of Steele are circulating a letter of support, with 14 of 50 state chairs signing as of this afternoon.

By David Weigel  |  April 8, 2010; 8:35 PM ET
Categories:  Michael Steele , RNC  
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