By Geneva Sands - 01/30/12 02:14 PM EST
Former head of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele ripped his successor, current RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, on Monday for comparing President Obama to the Italian cruise ship captain who allegedly abandoned ship and has been arrested on multiple charges.
"I think it's an unfortunate analogy. I mean, people died in that situation," Steele said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday in Florida.
“We’re going to talk about our own little Capt. Schettino, which is President Obama, who’s abandoning the ship here in the United States and is more interested in campaigning than doing his job as president,” Priebus said.
Francesco Schettino was the captain of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that ran aground and partially sank off the coast of Italy earlier this month, killing at least 16 people.
Steele, an MSNBC political analyst, was also critical of the RNC's effectiveness, saying the committee "dropped the ball" when it came to reaching out to voters.
"The reality of it is the RNC, the party has got to come to the country with a message. They haven't done that. They dropped the ball," Steele said.
"Now you look for Romney to pick it up if he's going to be the nominee. He's got to do it now. At least, regardless of how you criticize Santorum, Paul and Gingrich, they have big ideas. They have something at least people want to rally around," he added.
Priebus also took heat Monday from his Democratic counterpart, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), who called his remarks "incendiary."
"I'm not going to give any credence to those incendiary remarks … For the RNC chairman to compare the president of the United States to someone who has been charged with manslaughter shows a dramatic level of insensitivity to the families of those victims," Wasserman Schultz told Fox News. "Unbelievable comparison."
White House press secretary Jay Carney also addressed the issue Monday.
"Let me just say that if you're so desperate for attention that you make an analogy that Michael Steele deems inappropriate, then you've probably gone too far," Carney said.
Updared at 1:37 p.m.