- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans to tell a special gathering of state party officials Tuesday that the party is through apologizing for past mistakes and will take the initiative as it tries to rebound with voters.

“We have turned the page, we have turned the corner,” Mr. Steele insisted in prepared remarks to the gathering at the new Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Prince George’s County, Md. “No more looking in the rearview mirror. From this point forward, we will focus all of our energies on winning the future.”

Mr. Steele faces several hurdles at the RNC gathering Tuesday and Wednesday, with his short tenure as party chairman already rocked by public relations gaffes and an internal feud with some longtime RNC members over his management of the party’s finances and personnel. He initially resisted the call to hold this week’s special meeting.

RELATED STORY: EXCLUSIVE: RNC’s Steele associates’ pay spurs questions

Having lost control of Congress and the White House in the past two election cycles, the Republican Party should return to the forward-looking approach of President Reagan, according to Mr. Steele.

“Ronald Reagan always insisted that our party must move aggressively to seize the moment,” said Mr. Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor and the first African-American to chair the party. “He insisted that our party recognize the truth of the times and establish our first principles in both word and deed.”

Excerpts of the Steele remarks were first obtained by the Associated Press.

“Republicans may be the minority party at the moment, but we represent the ideas and concerns of the majority of Americans,” according to Mr. Steele. He said the party was ready to confront the “far left” views of President Obama, but would not attack Mr. Obama in the “shabby and classless way” that Democrats went after President George W. Bush.

Part of the RNC meeting will be devoted to debate and votes on amendments praising congressional Republicans who opposed Mr. Obama’s tax and spending programs and one calling on the opposition party to rechristen itself the “Democrat Socialist Party.” Mr. Steele originally resisted the later effort.

Mr. Steele may also face questions concerning his oversight of the party since winning a two-year term in January. The Washington Times reported Monday that several RNC officials are openly questioning some of Mr. Steele’s hiring decisions and the high salaries some close Steele aides are receiving.

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