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Michael Steele to Run For RNC Chair

Michael Steele, former Lt. Gov of Maryland, speaks to the delegates during the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday, September 3, 2008. Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount, Washington Post

Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele has decided to run for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, a move sure to shake up the evolving race for control of a party demoralized by broad losses at the ballot box earlier this month.

Steele confirmed his candidacy in an interview today with The Fix and announced it formally during an interview on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" show this evening.

"After two devastating election cycles, the party has reached a crossroads," said Steele comparing the Republican party to someone who has "hunkered down" in a corner with no idea what to do next. "I think I may have some keys to open the door, some juice to turn on the lights," Steele explained.

Steele is the second candidate to formally enter the race; Michigan Republican Party Chair Saul Anuzis launched his own bid with a You Tube video and a new website earlier this week.

A number of other candidates are mulling the race including: current RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), former Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chip Saltsman, former Iowa Rep. Jim Nussle, South Carolina Party Chair Katon Dawson and Florida Republican Party Chair Jim Greer.

The next chairman will be selected by 168 RNC committeemen and women during the organization's winter meeting in January.

Steele seems virtually certain to be one of the frontrunners for the post no matter who else joins the race given his resume and his profile. Following a stint as chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, Steele was elected lieutenant governor of Maryland in 2002. In 2006, he embarked on a Senate bid for the seat vacated by Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D). Despite massive spending on his behalf by the national party, Steele came up short to now Sen. Ben Cardin.

Since that loss, Steele has remained in the party mix as chairman of GOPAC, a national conservative organization designed to elect Republicans at the state and local level. He is also a frequent television presence as a contributor on Fox News Channel and the author of the now famous (infamous?) "Drill Baby Drill" line at the Republican National Convention.

Steele is also African American, a potentially powerful distinction in a party struggling for leaders that break out of the "old white guy" mold and badly in need of ways to broaden their coalition in future national elections.

For his part, Steele rejected the idea that the color of his skin had anything to do with his chances at becoming RNC chair. "I am a Republican who happens to be African American," he said.

Steele added that over the past few days he has been reaching out via phone to as many of the committee members as possible to make sure they know how important they are in this process. The people he has spoken with are "appreciative" of his candidacy, Steele said; "Even for those who have already committed to someone else they have been very enthusiastic," he noted.

In the interview Steele also made clear that in the current debate over whether the party should move to the middle or reaffirm its conservatives roots he falls clearly in the latter category.

"The core values of our party should not change," Steele said. "We are the conservative voice in America.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 13, 2008; 9:20 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Political Take: The Transition Edition!
Next: Friday Senate Line: The 2010 Landscape


Republicans want to teach blacks how to fish in the economic pool? The same pool with the no swimming sign posted for all of the poor for the last thirty years?
Republicans are for the rich and corporations. They always have been and always will. The only way they gain power is through deceiving the poor using fear of race, religion, and ethnicity. They top off this pile of crap with a patriotic frosting and serve it up every election. People are fed up with it,
black, brown, yellow and white, we are finally fed up with it.

Posted by: seemstome | November 16, 2008 4:33 AM | Report abuse

There is nothing better than to read some of these posts and find that the republican party is alive and well. Well, alive at least. Ok, barely alive. Alright, recently deceased and burning in hell.

Posted by: seemstome | November 16, 2008 4:08 AM | Report abuse





There is something fundamentally wrong with the Obama campaign keeping Ayers held back for the election - and now Ayers comes out and talks - the public deserves to have all the information BEFORE THE ELECTION.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the Obama campaign keeping Rev. Wrigtht held back for the election - and now Wright comes out and talks - the public deserves to have all the information BEFORE THE ELECTION.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the Obama campaign keeping Joe Biden held back for the election - and now Biden comes out and talks - the public deserves to have all the information BEFORE THE ELECTION. - well we all sort of knew he was a nut all along.

GO JOE !!!

Find that Kenyan Birth Certificate yet???





Posted by: 37thOSt | November 15, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I also concur that that the Republican Party is at a croosroads ,and needs too go back too it's conservative roots ,and also reach out too ethnic minorities who are crucial if our party is too survive the future. This past Presidential election made it clear that there are many social conservatives who have strong Christian faiths that reject gay marriage ,and abortion on demand.
I think if the RNC would start a grass roots organization in California ,and try too win over social conservatives in the Latino ,and Black communties it would pay off big time. We have always conceded California too the Democrates which is a big mistake.The people there are crying out with there over whelming defeat of the gay marriage amendment.
This is why my logical choice for a new leader of the RNC would be the great patriot from Maryland Mr Steele.

Posted by: kaefer | November 15, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

He is a total sell-out, with little concern for people other than the well-heeled. His fingerprint is on the big business manuevers in Prince George's County and on the gutting of good programs and people in the state agencies under Gov Ehrlich. And on Fox he acts like a syncophant, saying whatever Hannity wants. Sure, he'll be glad to drive the RNC bus into the bowels of....

Posted by: Towards_Light | November 14, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

This is terrific news! Michael Steele is just the person to lead the RNC! Best of luck to you Mr. Steele!

Posted by: eduto | November 14, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I would like to know why Republicans do not want Blacks in the party? Someone asked why affluent Blacks join the Republican Party? They want to keep more of their money.

African Americans are socially conservative, however, they do not have the ability to create wealth. If the Party wants to reach out to Blacks, show them how to create wealth and you got them.

African Americans support the Dems from a financial stance. If the Party seriously create programs on how to create wealth within the African American community, that would change the dynamics of the game.

Dems want African Americans to remain dependent by keeping them poor; you see how nothing really changes other than adding more social programs.

Republicans should create financial wealth programs to teach African Americans how to fish in the economic pool of riches.

Posted by: kamullins | November 14, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Steele is a jerk. The RNC just wants a black face, well get someone with substance. Steele is too timid on everything.

Posted by: glt1979 | November 14, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"The message for Republicans is get a message!'

How about Hope and Change! And then rinse, lather, and repeat. It will prove catchy with libs.

Posted by: leapin | November 14, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

rlj1 -

u da sheeple

Posted by: leapin | November 14, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

SeanC1 -

When we are all "educated" there will be no need for a military !

Posted by: leapin | November 14, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse


u a god!

Posted by: leapin | November 14, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

DinahS -

Nice racist bs

Posted by: leapin | November 14, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"An end to "Senator Cleghorns" at the top of the GOP? About time. Someone who can get elected in an overwhelmingly Democratic state?"

He hasn't really been elected in Maryland. Lieutenant Governor doesn't really count, as it was Ehrlich who was on top of that ticket and carried it (actually I'd say that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost that election more than Ehrlich won, but that's beside the point.)

On his own, running for the Senate in 2006, Steele lost, and it wasn't even close. He didn't make any major inroads into African American or other traditional Democratic voters. So it doesn't follow that making him head of the RNC will change things in a major way; without some changes in their outlook or governing record minority and Democratic voters will not be attracted to vote Republican because of the candidate's skin color. Maryland voters demonstrated that.

Still, he could be an effective chairman if chosen. But that probably shuts the door on winning statewide office in MD, if he's still interested. Speaking for the GOP on national talk shows will yield a treasure trove of politically unhelpful quotes that the state's dominant Democrats would toss back at him.

Posted by: mkarns | November 14, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"The republican party has posited themselves as the party of national security, a huge number of the armed forces composed of blacks and other minorities."

Blacks and minorities are a huge part of the military because they're at the bottom of the economic ladder and have limited opportunities to get to college or even find well-paying work; hence, they're prime recruits. The Republicans fight tooth-and-nail against the programs that would help blacks and others get better education, so that angle of approach is a deadend.

Posted by: SeanC1 | November 14, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Steele is to Brown what Palin is to Clinton as Thomas is to Marshall.

What each former lacks in comparison to the latter in each case is support from the group that the conservatives hope to grow.

Steele is in no way representative of the aspirations of most African-Americans.
Palin is in no way representative of the aspirations of most women.

Let him (Steel)lead. Let her (Palin) run. It is the substance of the conservative ideals and ideas that doom them.

Posted by: RepuNoLonger | November 14, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Michael Steele's most impressive accomplishment was graduating from Johns Hopkins in 1981. What has he really done since then? Talk about a thin resume.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 14, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The last black DNC chairman? The late Ron Brown, thank you -- he was instrumenal in getting Bill Clinton elected, if we remember.

Posted by: Nowlin | November 14, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

do any of them really kniow what this guy thinks or says because he has the same viewpoints that got us and the party

He is to this position as Palin was to the VP...

same reasoning.

Republicans don't get that race and gender are just to be removed as barriers...they are not the reason to elect someone or the most weighted reason... ...unless you are that same race and gender that has never seen your viewpoint appointed... and even them it must be matched by brains.

Posted by: klondike2 | November 14, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Who was the last African-American chairman of the DNC? Why don't you give Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton a chance?

Posted by: lorddunsmore | November 14, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Michael Steele can purport that he's a Republican that happens to be African-Americans, but you can bet that is not how his counterparts will see him. They think that having a black person as the face of the party is going to help them?! They have more soul-searching to do as a party than I thought.

I hope they see where identity politics (Sarah Palin) got them this year. But as a Democrat, I say keep up the good work! The wilderness awaits.

Posted by: DinahS | November 14, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Strange that Steele would be a "frontrunner" because of his skin color. However, not surprising. Republicans don't truly understand diversity. Pick a black and blacks will follow - not; pick a woman and women will follow - not. This is the kind of think of while males. They just don't get it.

Posted by: rlj1 | November 14, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse





Hello Hello

Obama took all sorts of money from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae -- then the public ignored these obvious entanglements.

So now what is Obama going to do - truly represent the people OR be in with the Freddie Mac money people ????


Freddie Mac has asked the federal government for the first $14 billion due under a federal bailout program after reporting massive losses today, as concern mounted that government efforts to stabilize the mortgage giant and its sister company Fannie Mae are likely to grow far more expensive than originally suggested.

The McLean-based company said that it lost $25 billion from July through September, and that as a result it was, in essence, broke -- with its liabilities exceeding its assets by $13.8 billion.






Posted by: 37thOSt | November 14, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Most Republicans couldn't tell you who the current RNC chairman is because of his low profile. Michael Steele bring a good profile to the job if elected. He is great issue, media oriented politican, and fundraiser. The message for Republicans is get a message!

Danny L. McDaniel
Lafayette, Indiana

Posted by: ussmcdaniel | November 14, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

There was a wonderful op-ed piece in the NY Time yesterday about British conservative party that ought to be required reading for any Republican who thinks their party does not need to change:

Posted by: wmw4 | November 14, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

too much Foxnews in his blood.

If they choose him they are not acknowledging the Foxnews effect.

The last decade has one notable change that caused the situation we are in...

the warping of American news when Republican operatives created a network 10 years ago called Foxnews.

It is what got us is what warped the truth for America to be duped and not have real debate on truthful issues...

and Michael Steele is part of that.

If they picked him they would be signing on for more fuzziness and spin that got us and their party

Posted by: klondike2 | November 14, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

You wonder what Gingrich is setting up for if he doesn't want the RNC chairmanship. A run against Palin in 2012?

Posted by: parkerfl1 | November 14, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Moses could come back from the mountain top to lead the GOP and guess what, same result...wandering the political wasteland for at least the next 8-12 years.....enjoy the walk and bring lots of water, you'll need it.

Posted by: pgiaquinto | November 14, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

An end to "Senator Cleghorns" at the top of the GOP? About time. Someone who can get elected in an overwhelmingly Democratic state?

We may yet have a vaiable two party systems without the extreme right wing "lug nuts" and watch Limbaugh, Hannity, Colter and the rest start foaming at the mouth.

Who knows? Maybe this departed Republican could come home again?

Posted by: NotBubba | November 14, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Black people are conservative by and large. They have much more in common with social conservative than they do liberals, Just ask Californians. The republicans have posited themselves as the party of God, black people are pretty religious. The republican party has posited themselves as the party of national security, a huge number of the armed forces composed of blacks and other minorities. The republican party has posited itself as the party of the stupid, Most black people have common sense. Is that where that the republican party has gone wrong?

Posted by: Penseur | November 14, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

As long as abortion, creationism and denying gays their rights are at the center of republican platform, they lose, no matter which blowhard leads em.

Posted by: wpost4112 | November 14, 2008 7:32 AM | Report abuse

if MIchael Steele can fix the Primary system so that outsiders can't pick our candidate and vet candidates for President in 4 years, help Republicans run in 2 years for the house and beat Reid in 2 years in the senate and others and most of all define what the Republican party stands for, he should be the head of the RNC, they should hire analysts and free thinkers to help them, people with vision...

Posted by: DwightCollins | November 14, 2008 5:48 AM | Report abuse

"As far as the GOP is concerned, the ONLY reason they lost the election this time around is because this is an "anti-incumbent" year."

Also because of the economy. Not that the failed economy was the fault of the GOP. No conservative columnist will admit to that, but they almost unanimously say that's the reason. As if it was just a fluke.

I love it.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 14, 2008 5:00 AM | Report abuse

I am real happy that Steele is running for the Chair of the RNC. I've always liked him and always will.
Real Brother, you display the charcteristics of a black racist in your comments. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and when you open your eyes, hopefully you'll see Steele as just an American. With that said, I am glad you embrace Barrack Hussein Obama. I'm willing to bet my last dollar that before he is innaugurated Jan 20, it will be proven that Barrack is not eligible to be POTUS. Check out this link and take time to read it all.

Posted by: drumsalot | November 14, 2008 2:18 AM | Report abuse

As far as the GOP is concerned, the ONLY reason they lost the election this time around is because this is an "anti-incumbent" year. Why else would they parrot the line that America is "still a right of center" nation? They just don't get it.

And even those few who do have some critiques of their own party, it is limited to "we lost our way. we are no longer the party of small government". In other words, the only reason they lost is because their leader blew up the deficit and created more government agencies. Somehow they don't site the crappy economy, the horrible state of our financial markets, the destruction of our manufacturing base, etc, etc.

And now there is talk that Halee Barber (sp?) from MS may be the one the party turns to for leadership. Yes, another old ultra-conservative white man from the deep south to lead this party to its grave.

As a Dem though, I say keep on keepin' on Repubs.


Posted by: PeixeGato1 | November 14, 2008 1:17 AM | Report abuse

The GOP is in the process of convincing themselves that they lost the election not because they weren't moderate enough, but because they weren't conservative enough.

Pretty amazing, when you think about it. They found a VP candidate who scared the living daylights out of middle of the road voters, and energized the Democratic base in a way we haven't seen since JFK.

But the way they see it, they didn't hammer enough on taxes.

Here's betting that when the (pretend) soul-searching is done, they go back to planning the 2010 slime campaign.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 14, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

My bad. Agnew was in 1966, not 1968.

Posted by: gbooksdc | November 13, 2008 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Dear Real Brother:

Just stop it. You do not know the man, you're talking out your ***.

Fealty to the Democratic Party is not a measure of blackness. PG blacks voted for a Baltimore city organization pol over someone whose SOLE difference was party registration. And he has (predictably) taken care of Baltimore city since he was elected. What has Cardin done for PG? Nothing.

ONE reason the GOP has moved so far to the right is because primary voters themselves are so radical, moderates can't get nominated -- like Tom Davis in VA. Steele is a moderate. So was Sen. Mathias, who did a whole lot more for blacks than Cardin. You probably don't remember, but it was DEMOCRATS who put up a segregationist for Governor -- George P. Mahoney -- in 1968. Only Republican Spiro Agnew saved us from having our own Lester Maddox or George Wallace.

I understand the schools don't teach students the ability to think critically nowadays, so I understand that your political analysis is limited to a label, a brand name. But to surmise that Steele is a self-hating Negro that wants to be white purely because he is a Republican says WAY more about you than him. I will remind you, not one year ago, most blacks supported Hillary Clinton -- not Barack Obama -- precisely because Sen. Obama "wasn't black enough" (he was raised by whites, after all). Interestingly, the more primaries he won, the blacker Sen. Obama became to the rank and file of black Dems. (Meanwhile, the candidate once embraced by blacks found her true footing as the candidate of "hardworking whites".) Michael Steele is at least as black as Barack Obama -- as if a racial litmus test was at all appropriate in an age where the vast majority of us want our pols to get past race (that's what "post-racial" means, see Barack Obama, Cory Booker, Adrian Fenty, etc.).

Posted by: gbooksdc | November 13, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Michael Steele is back? Chris how will you ever get your work done with all his "charisma" distracting you? Better not tell Bobby Jindal; your new favorite might get jealous if he knows your old flame is back in town.

Posted by: havok26 | November 13, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse

The republican party should drop the statement "we're still the conservative party." That statement along with their far right stance has led many members and independents to distance themselves from party. Democrats have conservatives, liberals, and moderates in their fold. Republicans just have conservatives which basically states, only old white men, the religious right and corporate heads are our base.

Posted by: | November 13, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Real Brother here.

Again, if the Republican Party would get rid of the Racists and White Supremacists then maybe some Blacks would deal with them. But as long as Rush and Hannity and O'Reilly and Bennett(let's abort all the Blacks so crime can go down) then please.

We ain't messin' wictha'.


Posted by: Realbrother0003 | November 13, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Real Brother here.

No fella's, having a Black Self-hating wish he were White Sellout Brother up there thinking Blacks will support that is simply showing how out of touch the GOP is.

We embraced Barack Obama because he loves his Race and Culture and embraces who he is and all communites. We reject Steele because he hates his Race and Culture and wishes he were White.

Sorry, try again Repubs.


Posted by: Realbrother0003 | November 13, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

The optics of having Steele in charge would be good for the party, which has no black figures of any note in elected office, though in some respects they might be better off casting themselves more towards Hispanics, since blacks are almost congenitally Democrat.

As to how he'd do in the actual job, hard to say; he's a Maryland Republican, which might suggest an understanding of the moderate turf Republicans will need to position themselves on to compete again, but at the same time he hasn't been all that successful in Maryland, so maybe not.

Posted by: SeanC1 | November 13, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

About this resume of Steele's...other than Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, does the guy have any other job without the word "Republican" in the title?

Posted by: DDAWD | November 13, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I always have a hard time understanding why successful Black Americans get involved with the republican party. Sure, it's the party of Lincoln, but Lincoln was the last republican to give a damn about Black Americans. Since then its been a long dry stretch.

The Democratic party has been guilty many times of assuming Black voters support. The reason for these assumptions has been the fact that the Democratic party has become a friend to Black America. With the old Boll Weavil Democrats gone, the current Democratic party has become an unambiguous friend to Black voters.

I've heard the arguments from Black republicans that the Democratic party only offers a handout instead of a hand up.

The recent election would seem to answer that complaint, loud and clear.

There are racists in the republican party. Not a majority, but there is definitely a faction. A lot of it is covert, spoken of in code words, but its there. Conservative screeds against "welfare mothers" and midnight basketball are familiar topics of speakers addressing the party faithful.

How do Black republicans reconcile themselves to this? When they're attending the party BBQ and drinks have been flowing and tongues get loose, how often does the ugly stuff start to creep out?

Posted by: fredfawcett | November 13, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

As Ehrlich's running mate, they barely squeaked a win. Steele has never won a race on his own. If he can't win on his own, how is he going to lead the charge to win back all the lost GOP seats?

Posted by: jandcgall1 | November 13, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

The GOP just got pummeled and they still don't get it. They need to leave the far right on the sidelines and start being another choice for regular Americans. Even after Obama won with a bipartisan message, the GOP continues its partisan politics. This was aptly shown by two of the new GOP leaders??? on the NewsHour when they both spurted the same negative, party-line tone about President-elect Obama. This is the Gingrich modus operandi, and he's still being seriously considered for the RNC chair? It's because of people like Gingrich that the GOP supports a policy of actively removing any republican with an independent thought, none more obvious than in the case of Wayne Gilchrest, a respected, sincere, and thoughtful politician, heartily supported by the core of his District on the Eastern Shore of MD.

Posted by: wetland68 | November 13, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Vote Republican get communism.

Americans are not interested in who runs the Commie GOP.

America needs a Real Conservative Party.

The Dead slimy corpse of Rove's Commie GOP should burried it is stinking up the place.

The Republican party has become the Communist party under Rove and his NeoConMen.

All that is left in the commie GOP are whiners like ekim53, crazy McCain lady and the Self Cutter. So few they have to employ RoboGOP, what next for the commie GOP call centers in India?

Bloomberg could help form a Real Conservative Party; it will need open debate though to prevent entryists like Roves NeoConMen from taking over and turning it commie, like they did with the now commie GOP.

America needs a Real Conservative Party to replace the commie GOP.

Posted by: walker1 | November 13, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

If the RNC does not move to the center they will lose. BTW, does "Drill Baby Drill" sound "conservative" to you?

Posted by: mikem1 | November 13, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Party no longer has any serious interest in domestic and foreign policy issues. It has become just the "Anti-Sex League" described by George Orwell in '1984' — opposed not only to abortion, but also to contraception, stem-cell research, scientific sex education for kids, teaching evolution, gay rights, you name it — wheeeeee!! Onwards to the dustbin of history!!

Posted by: cwh2 | November 13, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Whatever MIchael Steele wants to run for, he has my vote.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | November 13, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

This will be perfect.
The Fix forgot to mention that Steele was head of the Republicans in Prince George's County, where he still lives.
And what is the state of the Republicans in Prince George's County and Maryland?
Not that great. They lost the governorship and they just lost the 1st district.
How many elected Republicans in Prince George's County?
1, or 2?

The precincts surrounded Steele's church went 85% and up for Obama.

He's got a great track record.

I wonder if we will hear the oreo cookie myth.
Sean Hannity is particularly fond of that lie.

Posted by: edlharris | November 13, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

For the record, he loves puppies.

Posted by: Potter2 | November 13, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

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