Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele apparently thinks the best way to ring in the New Year is to disappoint his followers.
In a TV interview Monday, Steele said the party won't be regaining control of Congress in the mid-term elections this year. And if there's a reason for that, it's that the Republicans "screwed up" after Ronald Reagan left office.
According to excerpts of his new book, obtained by the Associated Press, Steele criticizes the two Republican presidents who followed Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, accusing the elder Bush of abandoning Republican principles by instituting tax hikes, and accusing the younger Bush of betraying fiscal conservatism with large deficits and the TARP bank bailout.
And in an appearance on Fox News, Steele indirectly said that the GOP would not regain control of Congress this year, as some pollsters and political observers have suggested. Asked by host Sean Hannity if he believed the Republicans would win back the House this year, The Hill reports Steele responded: "Not this year."
"You don't think so?" Hannity responded.
"Well, I don't know yet, because I don't know all the candidates yet," Steele said. "We still have some vacancies that need to get filled, but then the question we need to ask ourselves is: if we do that, are we ready?"
"Are you?" Hannity asked.
"I don't know," Steele responded. "And that's what I'm assessing and evaluating right now."
"Members of Congress and top GOP aides are livid with Steele's latest comments," reports Reid Wilson at the National Journal. "Buzz early Tuesday surrounded just how aggressive Congressional aides and political strategists should push back, a delicate task when Steele controls the RNC's purse strings."
'BROTHER'S STILL HERE'
Steele's book, Right Now: A 12-Step Program For Defeating The Obama Agenda, went on sale this week. In a Today Show interview Tuesday morning, the RNC chairman boasted a little of his unexpected staying power at the helm of the Republican Party.
"You're one year into a two-year term," host Meredith Vieira said. "A lot of people thought that you'd be toast by now. What happened?"
"Well, brother's still here," Steele responded. "Kickin'."
This video is from NBC's Today Show, broadcast Jan. 5, 2010.