Rep. Cole, former NRCC chairman, calls for Steele to step down

Rep. Tom Cole, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, became the first GOP lawmaker to call on Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to resign because of his comments questioning the Afghanistan war.


"Frankly, I find Steele's remarks totally unacceptable," said Cole (Okla.) in a statement Saturday. "He should apologize and resign. He undercut American forces fighting in the field, politicized further a war that two presidents of different parties have deemed in the national interest and embarrassed the party he purports to lead. It is time for him to go -- quickly."

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Cole was recently a member of Republican leadership, directing House GOP campaign efforts in 2008. He has also served as a former RNC chief of staff.

Steele this week at a fundraiser in Connecticut said the war was "not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in" and said that it was a "war of [President] Obama's choosing."

“If he's such a student of history,” Steele said at a fundraiser in Connecticut, “has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.”


U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001, when President George W. Bush went after the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.

Since Steele's remarks became public, a number of prominent conservatives have also asked for Steele's ouster, including Liz Cheney, Bill Kristol, former South Carolina GOP chief Katon Dawson and RedState founder Erick Erickson.

Republicans in Congress have backed Obama's most recent move in the Afghan war, the replacement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus to be the top U.S. commander in the war. The Senate confirmed Petraeus' nomination unanimously Thursday.