Senior Republican National Committee members are preparing a motion demanding that RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele cancel promotional events for the book he wrote as chairman, The Washington Times has learned.
The proposed motion, to be presented to the 168-member RNC at its annual winter meeting in Honolulu at the end of this month, also would direct him to donate to the RNC and Republican candidates all proceeds from the book.
A storm of criticism has swirled around Mr. Steele over his missteps, retractions, and profiting from speeches and his new book, “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda.” Three of his predecessors have publicly castigated his actions. His critics say the controversy is distracting voter attention from the Democrats’ problems 10 months before midterm elections.
“I think the motion may be the way out of this mess, a step ahead,” said former RNC General Counsel David Norcross, a national committee member from New Jersey.
Mr. Norcross said he has not finalized plans for the maneuver, and other members involved said they are gauging its potential impact on the national party.
In response, the RNC said the vast majority of state party chairmen and committee members support Mr. Steele and welcome his ability to energize the Republican base.
“There will always be a few folks who are Washington insiders and will work to oppose him. The RNC and the chairman are focused on winning elections and not on inside-the-Beltway distractions,” said RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay.
But in another sign of internal tension, Mr. Steele’s supporters have begun citing the precedent of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, e-mailing to members a claim that Mr. Barbour was guilty of the same things Mr. Steele is now being criticized for doing when he headed the RNC in the mid-1990s, The Times also has learned.
The veiled shot at Mr. Barbour, an influential Republican leader, came Monday when Steele supporters circulated a message to other RNC members saying that Mr. Barbour wrote a book in 1996 as national chairman.
The party infighting is escalating two weeks before the RNC’s annual winter meeting that could determine Mr. Steele’s fate.
Former Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken, who served on the RNC during Mr. Barbour’s two terms as head of the party, told The Times that Mr. Barbour “was a politically astute and effective chairman whom no one ever accused of being less than a full-time chairman.” Mr. Pauken said he has “nothing against Michael Steele personally. I just think that he is in over his head.”
“This is a time when the national Republican Party needs bold, conservative leadership to do battle with the most liberal regime in American history,” he said.
Mr. Steele’s office sought to defuse a potential clash with Mr. Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
“The chairman deeply respects Gov. Barbour’s long record of leadership to the Republican Party. Chairman Steele and Gov. Barbour enjoy a solid working relationship and look forward to coming victories in the fall,” said Mr. McKay.
Mr. McKay also made clear that Mr. Steele “sought and received experienced senior Republican legal counsel, about his outside income.”View Entire Story
Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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