RNC's Steele Backs Off Comments Ripping Limbaugh
March 3, 2009 at 5:15 AM (PT)
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE Chairman MICHAEL STEELE has backed off comments criticizing RUSH LIMBAUGH's act as "incendiary" and "ugly." STEELE told POLITICO.COM, "My intent was not to go after RUSH -– I have enormous respect for RUSH LIMBAUGH. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate... There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership."
After the PREMIERE RADIO NETWORKS host spoke at the CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE's convention in WASHINGTON SATURDAY, STEELE went on CNN's "D.L. HUGHLEY BREAKS THE NEWS" to assert that he, not LIMBAUGH, is the "de facto leader of the Republican Party" and added, "RUSH LIMBAUGH is an entertainer. RUSH LIMBAUGH's whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly."
On his show MONDAY, LIMBAUGH responded by saying, "Okay, so I am an entertainer, and I have 20 million listeners, 22 million listeners because of my great song-and-dance routines here. Yes, said MICHAEL STEELE, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, I'm incendiary, and yes, it's ugly. MICHAEL STEELE, you are head of the RNC. You are not head of the REPUBLICAN PARTY. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the RNC and right now they want nothing to do with it, and when you call them asking them for money, they hang up on you.
"I hope that changes. I hope the RNC will get its act together. I hope the RNC chairman will realize he's not a talking head pundit, that he is supposed to be working on the grassroots and rebuilding it, and maybe doing something about our open primary system and fixing it so that Democrats do not nominate our candidates. It's time, Mr. STEELE, for you to go behind the scenes and start doing the work that you were elected to do instead of trying to be some talking head media star, which you're having a tough time pulling off. I hope you figure out how to run a primary system. But it seems to me that it's MICHAEL STEELE who is off to a shaky start." LIMBAUGH blamed STEELE's comments on STEELE "taking the bait" from the "liberal media" to attack LIMBAUGH "even though the premise of what was said to him was false."