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EXCLUSIVE: GOP prepares as calls for Steele’s resignation grows
With Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele facing a barrage of calls to resign, North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth, a social conservative, told The Washington Times on Friday he is quitting his post to prepare a possible challenge of Mr. Steele after November’s midterm elections.
Also on Friday, prominent neoconservatives led by William Kristol and Liz Cheney began a growing chorus demands that Mr. Steele step down now, before the Nov. 2 midterm congressional and gubernatorial elections and before he can decide whether to seek reelection to a second two-year term in January.
Mr. Emineth said what moved him to consider a bid for national chairman is what he called Mr. Steele’s dismal failure with big donors who are giving to other, more trusted GOP campaign organizations as polls continue to show Republicans, if adequately financed, stand a good chance of regaining control of Congress.
Mr. Emineth said he is resigning as state chairman to devote more time to his expanding burrito-manufacturing business. Resigning now has the added advantage of freeing him to campaign for national party chairman after Nov. 2.
What suddenly triggered resignation demands from the influential neoconservatives wing of the GOP — its foreign-policy hawks — was Mr. Steele’s saying in Connecticut on Thursday that Afghanistan is President Obama’s war and one that should not have been fought in the first place. (Click here to see the video.)
The social and neoconservative wings of the party, with their shared concern for the safety of Israel and focus on “Islamo-fascism,” have decided that Mr. Steele — the author of numerous gaffes in the past — has crossed the line this time.
On Friday, Mr. Kristol, editor of the neoconservative Weekly Standard, said in an open letter to Mr. Steele: “Your comment is more than an embarrassment. It’s an affront — both to the honor of the Republican Party and to the commitment of the soldiers fighting.”
Ms. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, told Politico that the “chairman of the Republican party must be unwavering in his support for American victory in the war on terror — a victory that cannot be accomplished if we do not prevail in Afghanistan. I endorse fully Bill Kristol’s letter to Chairman Steele. It is time for Chairman Steele to step down.”
In his missive, Mr. Kristol pointed out that the “war in Afghanistan was not ‘a war of Obama’s choosing.’ … It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort.”
Skepticism about the war is shared by many traditional conservatives such as commentator George F. Will.
“There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they’re certainly entitled to make their case. But one of them shouldn’t be the chairman of the Republican party,” Mr. Kristol said.
Hinting that Mr. Steele’s stand might undermine the war effort, the Democratic National Committee jumped on RNC chairman’s remarks, circulated on a video of his appearance at a small GOP fundraiser in Connecticut.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
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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