Steele defends tenure as RNC chairman

Jan. 3, 2011 at 3:49 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Monday he doesn't "see the crisis" others see with him leading the party.

During a candidates debate in Washington, Steele, seeking a second term as RNC chairman, said he's a "glass-half-full" kind of person despite drawing criticism for financial decisions during his first term, The Hill reported.

"I don't see the crisis as some may see it," Steele said. "I don't see it as something where alarm bells are going off and you start throwing and remaking and blowing up."

Former Missouri Republican Party Chairwoman Ann Wagner called out Steele on his money issues during his first term.

"It is broken and needs to be fixed," Wagner said of the committee's financial situation. "I think it's time for real change."

Steele has argued the party's prospects have improved, citing Republican wins in gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009 and in special elections in Massachusetts and Hawaii in 2010. However, news reports during the weekend indicated the RNC would begin the 2012 election cycle more than $20 million in debt.

Besides Wagner, Steele faces challenges for his post from Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan GOP chairman, Wisconsin Republican Reince Priebus and Maria Cino, a former Bush administration official. Gentry Collins, a former RNC official, dropped out of contention Sunday.

RNC members will vote for their next chairman Jan. 20.

Politico reported that more than half of the RNC committee members indicated they won't support Steele.

Eighty-eight of the RNC's 168 members said they've decided not to vote for Steele either because they support another candidate or because they don't want to vote for the incumbent, the canvass released Monday revealed.

A winning candidate must gain the support of 85 members of the RNC.

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