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Posted at 1:03 PM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Michael Steele: 'Nothing wrong with a government shutdown'

By Rachel Weiner

While most Republican leaders have been careful to avoid talk of a government shutdown, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said on Monday that he didn't think it temporary closure of the federal government would be such a bad thing

Personally I think there's nothing wrong with a government shutdown," Steele told ABC News' "Top Line" program. "It is the shocker. It is the reality check that the spenders need to have.

Steele has pushed in this direction before; in a CNN interview last fall, he declared that Republicans were "not going to compromise on raising the debt ceiling", which, while unrelated to the current budget debate, is another major hurdle that Congress will need to clear this spring. Steele also told a Nebraska conservative website that "anything can happen" when asked about the possibility of a shutdown.

Top Republicans in Congress have tried to tamp down shutdown talk. House Speaker John Boehner said Friday that he was optimistic that the government would stay open. Other House Republicans are following a nearly identical script, saying they are not seeking a shutdown. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wisc.) has made nearly identical comments.

Steele also suggested that he was underwhelmed by the current potential presidential nominees. Asked who had the best chance of beating President Obama, he replied, "all of them and none of them." He added that he didn't think a candidate had emerged who could appeal to independent voters but did have some kind words for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, saying that Democrats had "very cleverly" meshed Obama's health-care legislation with the law Romney signed but that "there are differences."

Of course, at this point Steele is an observer of Republican politics, not a participant following his unsuccessful bid for a second term at the helm of the national party committee earlier this year. He suggested as much when discussing his own future. The much-maligned former leader said he was "looking at doing some television, doing some writing ... and of course mak[ing] some money."

By Rachel Weiner  | March 7, 2011; 1:03 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party  
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