McCain questions Steele’s future as GOP head
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) cast doubt Sunday on the future of the head of the Republican Party following controversial comments about the war in Afghanistan.
At a Thursday fundraiser, RNC Chairman Michael Steele was caught on video saying that the Afghanistan war was a “war of Obama’s choosing” and probably a “lost cause” because no foreign power had won a war on Afghan soil “in over 1,000 years.”
ABC’s Jake Tapper spoke to McCain Sunday about Steele’s remarks. “Republicans such as Congressman Tom Cole, William Kristol, Liz Cheney, have said that Michael Steele needs to resign because of those comments. Do you think a chairman of the Republican National Committee can be effective if he thinks that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, as Steele seems to think?” asked Tapper.
“I think those statements are wildly inaccurate, and there’s no excuse for them,” said McCain.
“The fact is I believe Mr. Steele is going to have to assess if he can still lead the Republican Party as chairman of the Republican National Committee and make an appropriate decision,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) added his voice to the growing Republican chorus of condemnation against Steele, calling Steele’s remarks “uninformed, unnecessary, unwise.” Graham denied the idea that the war was “of Obama’s choosing,” calling it “America’s war,” the Huffington Post reported.
But a few Republicans are sticking by Steele. Libertarian icon Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said that Steele “has it right and Republicans should stick by him.”
“I would like to congratulate Michael Steele for his leadership on one of the most important issues of today,” Paul said, as quoted at the Huffington Post. “He is absolutely right: Afghanistan is now Obama’s war. During the 2008 campaign, Obama was out in front in insisting that more troops be sent to Afghanistan. Obama called for expanding the war even as he pretended to be a peace candidate. … The American people are sick and tired spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year, draining our economy and straining our military.”
Republican and Democratic spokespeople played a game of role-reversal after Steele’s comments, with Republicans denying that the war was Obama’s choice, while Democratic operatives accused Steele of “betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan.”
Steele quickly backtracked on his comments after they became public. “For the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war,” he said Friday.
This video is from ABC’s This Week, broadcast July 4, 2010.