Michael Steele addresses CPAC official’s ‘painfully stupid’ comment about race

Former Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele on Friday blasted a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) spokesman’s comment that the RNC picked Steele to lead the party because “he was a black guy.”

“I wanted to talk to [CPAC chairman] Matt Schlapp first, but I think it’s painfully stupid what he said,” Steele told the Observer when asked about a remark CPAC communications director Ian Walters made at a dinner during the conference.

“If he feels that way I’d like him to come say that to my face,” Steele added. “And then I’d like him to look at my record and see what I did. I can’t believe an official of CPAC would go onstage in front of an audience and say something like that. I’ve been a strong supporter of CPAC for many years and I thought they raised them better than that here.”


In a speech at CPAC’s Ronald Reagan dinner on Friday, Walters reportedly criticized Republican thinking surrounding the decision to pick Steele to lead the RNC. 

“We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy, that was the wrong thing to do,” Walters said in a comment reportedly met with gasps.

Walters did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on Friday night.

Steele told the Observer that Walters’s comment “shows a lack of maturity and a lack of understanding of the work we did and the work we continue to do.”

“My skin color has nothing to do with that even if he thinks it does,” Steele said.

Steele, who led the RNC from 2009 until 2011, has spoken critically of President Trump in the past, including on Friday, when he blasted Trump’s proposal to arm trained teachers on school campuses as “delusional.”

Tags CPAC Donald Trump Republican National Committee
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