UPDATE: Despite earlier news reports suggesting Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele won't run for a second term, news reports late Monday indicated that Steele has decided to throw his hat in the ring after all.
The New York Times reports:
In the face of overwhelming criticism about his stewardship of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, the party chairman, declared Monday evening that he has no intentions of quietly stepping aside and vowed to seek re-election to lead the party into the 2012 presidential campaign.
The decision by Mr. Steele was met with anger and astonishment from an array of Republican officials. Yet it was far from clear that his bid for a second term would be successful or whether he would even stay in the race until Jan. 14, when the committee elects a chairman to guide the party through an election cycle where the chief goal is defeating President Obama.
The announcement by Mr. Steele upends the race to lead the Republican Party. Former Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota has been considering joining the campaign for chairman, but he has said that he would only do so if Mr. Steele was not a candidate.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
UPDATE: Michael Steele will not be seeking re-election as RNC chair, FoxNews.com reports, and plans to announce Monday that he will drop out of the contested race.
Original story unfolds below
On Monday, Republican National National Committee chairman Michael Steele plans to reveal whether he will seek reelection for another term, according to a published report.
Steele on Saturday evening emailed a note to committee members for warning of the upcoming major announcement.
“Dear Members, Please join me for a private conference call, Monday December 13th at 7:30pm (EST),'" he wrote. "For your personal conference code please RSPV to ... Thank you, and I look forward to talking to you Monday evening. Michael.”
Steele's supporters told Politico that they expect him not to seek reelection next month. A key sign that he will step down is that he has yet to gather a reelection team with which to face the growing number of challengers for his job.
Since being elected the first African-American GOP chairman in January 2009, Steele has embarrassed party loyalists with his poor fundraising and messaging abilities. He has also been a frequent target of the late night talk show circuit.
"Chairman Steele was actually scheduled to be a guest on this program back on January 18," The Daily Show's Jon Stewart explained to his audience in August. "But he had to cancel because it conflicted with him, um, deciding he did not want to be on the show any more."
Stewart then welcomed "embattled Steele" -- as portrayed by the blue muppet Mr. Johnson, whose image the Comedy Central show has used as a stand-in for Steele in the past.
"Happy to be in the hizzle with my main man, Johnny Beefstew!" he continued.
The mock interview covered the subject of "Bondage-gate," in which the RNC spent $1,946 on a sexually-themed Hollywood nightclub called Voyeur. The mishap led to the dismissal of an RNC staffer.
Appearing on CBS's Face the Nation in August, Republican strategist Ed Rollins was asked to comment on the so-called "shadow RNC" that has sprung up to bypass Steele as the Republican party's core management. Rollins had emerged as a strong Republican critic of chairman Steele, after calling for his resignation in April.
"[He] so immersed in controversy that he's kind of in a bunker these days," host Bob Schieffer said, noting Steele's reluctance to appear on television. "Are Republicans going to have to do something about Michael Steele?"
"Well, there's no time," Rollins replied, noting the upcoming election season. "Obviously he's been a disaster. You have three men on this show -- not me, but the other three -- who have all been party chairmen and very distinguished party chairmen. Michael Steele has failed miserably in the things you're supposed to do: raise money and basically go out and articulate the message. It's not going to matter though -- in the 11 weeks from now, what he says and does in the next 11 weeks is not going to matter."
The Republican Party went on to win back the US House in the November 2010 elections.
POLITICO reported that three unidentified critics of Steele believed his Saturday message was evidence that the chairman would drop out of the election campaign.
This video is from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, broadcast April 6, 2010.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Michael Steele Plays the Race Card|
With reporting by David Edwards, Muriel Kane and Stephen C. Webster.