Steele: White Republicans are scared of me

Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Michael Steele, who is known for making controversial statements, on Sunday said that white Republicans are afraid of him.

Steele also took aim at some in his own party last week as well, saying that he would "come after" centrist Republicans who support healthcare reform.

The Republican chairman appeared on TVOne's "Washington Watch" this weekend, a new Sunday political talk show aimed at a black audience. The host, Roland Martin, asked Steele how Republicans could reach out to black voters. Steele responded by talking about issues such as education, small business, jobs and the economy, The rest is in a partial transcript:

MARTIN: But your candidates got to talk to them. One of the criticisms I've always had is Republicans -- white Republicans -- have been scared of black folks.

STEELE: You're absolutely right. I mean I've been in the room and they've been scared of me. I'm like, "I'm on your side" and so I can imagine going out there and talking to someone like you, you know, [say] "I'll listen." And they're like "Well." Let me tell you. You saw in Christie and you saw in McDonnell a door open because they went in and engaged. McDonnell was very deliberate about spending...

MARTIN: Right.

STEELE: I mean, Sheila Johnson was on his team. I mean, that was a big deal. That's because he engaged her and she helped navigate him through that relationship.

Steele is the first African-American to serve as RNC chairman and has at times made controversial remarks regarding race.

Shortly after he was elected chairman in February, Steele said that the Republican Party needed to conduct an "off the hook" public relations campaign to attract blacks and Hispanics in "urban-suburban hip-hop settings." He also said that he would attract minority voters with fried chicken and potato salad.