Wearing a red baseball cap emblazoned with the words "Fire Pelosi," Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele defended his reign as head of the GOP in a speech to RNC members Friday. 

“I would rather have 50 strong, independent Republican state parties than one massive behemoth bureaucratic RNC,” Steele said as the committee's summer meeting in St. Louis. “That’s not what it’s ever been about. It’s never been about me.”

Steele's tenure as chairman has been criticized by several prominent Republicans as the committee's fundraising ability and relationship with the party's major donors has been called into question. 

More from the DesMoines Register:

Steele has faced criticism in the wake of revelations this year that party leaders spent roughly $2,000 at a Hollywood strip club in February.

More recently, he was criticized for stating that the war in Afghanistan was “a war of Obama’s choosing,” when it was begun under President George W. Bush, a Republican.

But Steele said he had helped lead efforts to modernize the party, with an new media strategy and getting involved in more states.

“The RNC was out of step with its base in facing the new frontier,” Steele said.