Steele dismissed calls from conservatives that he should resign for his statement that the war in Afghanistan was a war of choice. Steele also questioned the intelligence of entering a land war in Asia.
“Every time something happens, people say ‘he should step down,’” Steele said in his first public comments since the controversy.
“The reality is that’s not happening, so stop the noise on that. You don’t need the distraction. We’re focused on winning,” he said at an appearance with the Colorado Republican Party. ”I ain’t going anywhere. I’m here, I’m here. Look, we have too much work to do.”
Two Republican lawmakers and several prominent conservative media figures called on Steele to step down after he raised doubts about the Afghanistan war that the GOP supports.
After making his comments at a fundraiser in Connecticut last week, Steele issued a statement reiterating his support for the war. But Democrats pushed Steele’s comments as a harmful gaffe in a long line of misstatements. Two GOP lawmakers said Steele should resign, and party heavyweights such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticized his comments.
Despite the pressure, Steele earlier this week was seen as likely to survive the firestorm. GOP leaders distanced themselves from his remarks, but stopped short of calling for his resignation. Observers said it would be almost impossible to force a party chairman out just four months before the midterm elections.