Steele: Criticism motivated by race
Steele brushed aside calls for him to resign in his first interview since news broke that the Republican National Committee (RNC) reimbursed young donors for a nearly $2,000 party at a bondage-themed nightclub in Los Angeles.
In the interview, Steele said that black political leaders, such as President Barack Obama and him, are held to an unfair higher standard.
“The honest answer is, yes,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Barack Obama has a slimmer margin. A lot of folks do.
“It’s a different role for me to play and others to play and that’s just the reality of it. But you just take that as a part of the nature of it.
“My view on politics is much more grass roots-oriented … so I tend to, you know, come at it a little bit stronger, a little bit more street-wise. That’s rubbed some feathers the wrong way.”
Steele has faced pressure to resign from inside his own party since the nightclub incident, which revealed other examples of lavish spending at the RNC. The committee has spent tens of thousands on private jet travel, limousines and fancy hotels.
The chairman made similar comments in February, when he said his critics were motivated by race.
Some high-profile donors have decided to refrain from giving money to the RNC because of the spending.
Many Republicans, especially congressional leaders, have been dissatisfied with Steele’s penchant to speak out frequently, because he has also made many gaffes. In an interview several months ago, Steele predicted that Republicans would not take back the House in the fall after GOP leaders in Congress expressed confidence they would.
The RNC has pushed back, saying that the Democratic National Committee has authorized similar expenditures. The RNC also fired the individual who authorized the nightclub reimbursement, saying that Steele did not know of or approve it.
Steele went further Monday, defending his record as chairman, a tenure in which he has raised $96 million for the party and seen recent electoral victories in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, all of which Obama won in 2008.
He said that the spending issue has been blown up “larger than it needs to be,” adding, “At the end of the day, I’ve raised more money than the Democrats, same amount of money as DNC in 2010,” he said. “The bottom line is, I hear my donors, I hear our base out there, I hear the leadership. We’re taking steps to make sure we’re even more … fiscally conservative and to make sure the dollars are there when it comes to running campaigns.”