WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is catching flack for comparing President Barack Obama to the captain of an ill-fated Italian cruise ship.
Priebus' predecessor, Michael Steele called the analogy "unfortunate," The Hill reported.
"I mean people died in that situation," Steele, an MSNBC political analyst who was known for outrageous statements himself as RNC chairman, said of the Jan. 13 shipwreck off Italy's Tuscan coast in which at least 17 people died. The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, faces multiple charges, including abandoning ship.
Priebus, commenting on how tough primaries are good for America on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, said, "[We're] going to talk about our own little Captain Schettino, which is President Obama, who is abandoning the ship here in the United States and is more interested in campaigning than doing his job as president."
Priebus also took fire from Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who called his remarks "incendiary" and insensitive.
"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 Channel.
Even White House press secretary Jay Carney weighed in during the daily media briefing.
"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.