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A separate e-mail being sent to RNC members notes that the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that advocates for same-sex marriage and other homosexual issues, has embraced Mr. Steele’s candidacy.

“The leader of the RNC will be the most important person in shaping the party’s future,” says Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon. “Steele believes in a big-tent GOP. He has worked closely with Log Cabin ally Christine Todd Whitman at the Republican Leadership Council.”

Mr. Sammon notes that in a National Public Radio interview, Mr. Steele “specifically mentioned the importance of reaching out to Log Cabin and other mainstream GOP groups as the party looks to chart a future course.”

The endorsement by Log Cabin likely will hurt Mr. Steele with religious conservatives but might help him with other more libertarian-minded members.

The RNC will elect its next national chairman at its Jan. 28-31 annual winter meeting at the Capitol Hilton in Washington.

Mr. Steele did not return repeated telephone calls and e-mails from The Times on Wednesday.