Norm Coleman, the former Republican senator from Minnesota who lost his 2008 re-election bid by 315 votes, said Wednesday he is not interested in replacing the beleaguered Michael S. Steele as the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
“I am giving no thought to chairing the RNC,” Mr. Coleman said, responding to rumors rife in the blog world that he will replace Mr. Steele, who is facing charges of mismanagement. “I am supporting the chairman and hoping for his success.”
Recent reports of excessive spending by the RNC, especially paying for party volunteers’ visit to a Los Angeles adult club, have fueled calls for Mr. Steele to step down.
Mr. Coleman said such criticisms come with the job.
“When you’re in that position, you take the shots. That’s the reality,” Mr. Coleman told The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio talk show.
“We need an RNC that is strong and robust,” he said.
As many as 58 of the RNC’s 168 members have written a letter pledging support for Mr. Steele, The Washington Times reported Monday. On Friday, 29 state Republican chairman as well as party chiefs from the District of Columbia and Guam signed a letter asking Mr. Steele to remain the RNC chairman, CNN and the Hill newspaper reported.
Mr. Coleman said he is focused on directing the national debate to center-right themes such as small government and limited spending through his American Action Network and its sister group, American Action Forum.
“I am very happy to be doing what I am doing,” he said.
Mr. Coleman said the 2008 election cycle showed that politics is not all local. Issues such as the economic recession, growing jobless rates and ballooning national debt have created a national mood that is reflected in local races, he said.
It was such a phenomenon that helped Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown win liberal Democrat Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat in January, he said.
“People are fired up, engaged — some out of fear and some in anger,” Mr. Coleman said.