The GOP "screwed up" after President Ronald Regan left office in the late 1980s, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Michael Steele wrote in his forthcoming book.

In his criticism, Steele includes the last two Republican presidents and the 2008 GOP presidential nominee. The Associated Press first reported the contents of Steele's new book, which is billed as a blueprint of how to rebuild his party.


Steele says that the GOP can no longer afford to elect candidates who compromise their principles -- a problem he says has dogged the Republicans for many years.

''We must support Republican officials who assert these principles,'' he writes. ''When elected Republicans vote against Republican principles, the voters must withhold their support -- withhold it vigorously and consistently.''

The release, titled Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda, comes about a month after an RNC member proposed that the party imposed a "purity test" on its electoral candidates on conservative principles.

Steele in early December said that he does not favor "litmus tests" for candidates but added that he does not think that is the "intent" of the proposal. The chairman said it was too early to say how he would handle the proposal.

The "purity test" underscores tensions between organs of the GOP establishment and the party's conservative base. Conservative primary candidates such as Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Chuck DeVore (Calif.) are running hard against Republican candidates backed by the establishment they say are too liberal for the GOP.

Some conservative bloggers, such as RedState's Erick Erickson, have argued the establishment is a bigger enemy to conservative than liberals for this reason.

The chairman chides President George H.W. Bush for raising taxes during his term (even though Reagan raised some taxes, the AP notes.) He takes on President George W. Bush for not vetoing spending bills during his first five years in office and for passing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) at the end of his second-term. Campaign finance reform legislation co-authored by 2008 GOP nominee Sen. John McCain' restricted political speech, argues Steele.

Steele focuses the bulk of his book, published by conservative imprint Regnery, hitting at the Democratic agenda. The chairman criticizes big items such as the $787 billion economic stimulus and efforts to combat global warming. Steele says Republicans can win by offering a sharp contrast between liberal and conservative viewpoints and articulating conservative proposals.