House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) declined Tuesday to say whether Michael Steele should be fired as chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) over controversial remarks he made about the war in Afghanistan.
"That's not for me to decide," Cantor said on "Imus in the Morning" on the Fox Business Network when asked if Steele should step down.
He exhorted Steele instead to focus more on his more traditional duties as party chairman.
"Michael Steele's role is separate and apart from the official role that I play as a Republican officeholder. He plays a role in the party structure," the second-ranking House Republican added. "He is elected by the Republican National Committee, and we'll have to see."
Steele found himself under fire since Friday from members of his own party after video surfaced of the chairman speaking at a GOP fundraiser, where he said the war in Afghanistan was a war "of Obama's choosing" and that Obama was pursuing it to be "cute."
Republicans have distanced themselves from Steele's remarks. Some, like Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, have called for Steele's resignation as party chairman.
Cantor seemed to signal that he expected Steele would survive the latest controversy, but urged the RNC leader to stay out of the limelight and focus on building infrastructure and raising money.
"I think that Michael Steele in his role as chairman, he's got to keep focused on the things that a party chair does," Cantor said. "And I hope he will, and I believe he will."
"You know as well as I that the Republican National Committee and the party itself is there to provide support and to raise money. And that's the job of a RNC chairman, and Michael Steele has done a lot in that area," Cantor said during the interview. "He's got to keep focus on continuing to do that. I believe it's critical to the success of our party this election that he focus on the traditional role of the party chair, which is to raise the resources necessary and deliver the election."