RNC chair Steele: Some white Republicans are ‘scared of me’
Since being elected the first African-American RNC chairman, Michael Steele has gotten into some brief internecine spats for a number of bordering-on-insurgent quips against his party, but his latest might be destined to haunt him forever. And perhaps it’s another indication that his heart isn’t in the right place and that deep down he might think that he’s speaking for the wrong party, even.
During a weekend interview, Michael Steele told TV One‘s Roland Martin that he has experienced fear from other selected members of his party because of the color of his skin.
“I mean I’ve been in the room and they’ve been scared of me,” the RNC chairman said about fellow Republicans.
MARTIN: How do you — granted, a popular president got 95% of the black vote — you got any shot at getting black voters and if so what are the two issues that speaks to black voters for Republican have a shot at them?
STEELE: Education and the economy. Education and jobs. Education and small business.
MARTIN: But your candidates got to talk to them. One of the criticisms I’ve always had is Republicans — white Republicans — have been scared of black folks.
STEELE: You’re absolutely right. I mean I’ve been in the room and they’ve been scared of me. I’m like, “I’m on your side” and so I can imagine going out there and talking to someone like you, you know, [you’re like,] “I’ll listen.” And they’re like “Well.” Let me tell you. You saw in Christie and you saw in McDonnell a door open because they went in and engaged. McDonnell was very deliberate about spending —
STEELE: I mean, Sheila Johnson was on his team. I mean, that was a big deal. That’s because he engaged her and she helped navigate him through that relationship.
(via TV One)
A selected sampling of prior Steele statements that have caused a ruckus include referring to Rush Limbaugh as a practitioner of “ugly” entertainment, claiming he went from “pro-life his entire career” to believing abortion is an “individual choice,” offering “slum love” to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, hinting that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney lost in the 2008 presidential primaries because he was Mormon, and suggesting that the GOP was in dire need of a ‘hip-hop’ makeover.
Other “he said what” quips include his hoping to attract more blacks to his party by offering them “fried chicken and potato salad” and joking that the GOP needs “to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.”
In March, Politico reported Steele was “[s]teadily becoming a dependable punch line” due to his frequent gaffes.
“There’s frustration that there’s no discipline, no planning,” a ‘well-known Republican consultant’ told Politico. “He’s risking being overexposed by accepting every interview, which makes gaffes more likely.”
More from Politico’s March story:
In a lengthy interview, Steele was unapologetic, referring to the high-level GOP critics and skeptics as “nervous Nellies” and saying that he actually has been tempering his public remarks.
“If I told folks what I really thought, I’d probably be in a lot more trouble,” he said. “I think that’s what I bring to this job, as a voice of the party: I think it’s important to have that kind of newness and rawness to it that grabs folks’ attention and hopefully … take a look at what we’re doing.”
This video is from TV One, broadcast Nov. 9, 2009.