Have a seat. Grab the popcorn. Tell the neighbors you’ll be home late.
Welcome to Michael Steele: Unplugged: When is he ever NOT unplugged?
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with The Brody File at CBN News headquarters in Washington, D.C., Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele unloaded on his “anonymous critics,” defended his paid speeches, fundraising ability, signaled his displeasure with an upcoming Republican purity resolution, and clarified his remarks earlier this week when he said Republicans won’t be able to take back the House in 2010.
Michael Steele is promoting his new book called, Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda.
So where do I begin? I have an idea. How about you watch the video clips and partial transcriptions of each answer below? I highly suggest watching each answer and reading the transcript. For media types and politicos, there will be some "newsy" quotes below.
Michael Steele may rub a lot of people the wrong way and he may pay a price for it, but he’s a breath of fresh air in an era of talking point politicians. You’ve got to give him that.
On the tough words that he has for Republican Leaders in his new book:
Michael Steele: Let’s just say I’ve been in a little bit of trouble but I don’t care because I didn’t write this for them. This book is a book a lot of those staffers who are trying to get the chairman on message or muzzle the chairman it’s a book they don’t want you to read. They don’t want you to read this book because a guilty conscience is a funny thing.
On the upcoming vote at the RNC Meetings over the Reagan Resolution (purity test) where Republican candidates running for office would have to meet eight of 10 principles to be eligible for RNC funding:
Steele: I think Ronald Reagan would not be very accepting of something that has people standing at the door with a clipboard to check to see if you qualify.
Brody: You’re not a fan of the resolution?
Steele: I’m not but I haven’t seen all of it and I know that there have been some compromises and negotiations done. I’m waiting to get the final resolution to see what it is.
We want to broaden this party, and I’ve yet to figure out why you think that if I broaden my reach and I invite you to my table, that in doing that I somehow compromise what I believe.
I don’t want the party to be in the situation where we’re picking and choosing who qualifies to be in. Then you’re like an exclusive club. That’s why I say you put your principles out there first and the people who want to belong will be attracted by those principles and they will join you. And you don’t have the fear of who’s coming in the door because you know they’re coming in because they align themselves with those principles.
On newspaper stories that Republican donors are reluctant to give to the RNC because of Steele's leadership:
Steele: I don’t know who these people are. Folks need to understand that anything that comes out of The Washington Post or The Washington Times is jaundiced and prejudiced against me. All you have to do is read the articles. If I’m so bad in fundraising how come I beat the Democrats in fundraising in five or six out of 12 months?
Anonymous sources? I’m the kind of guy if I’m going to say something about you, I’m going on the record. I’m going to say you know what? I’m not writing a check because I don’t think he’s a good leader. But that’s not what I’m hearing when I call donors. What the article fails to mention and point out, even though we provided them with the information, is that our major donor programs have been growing since July.
And in fact, last month we were 262 percent of the budgeted review from major donors. So I think we got a lot of money from our major donors and we’re getting it. They are supporting the party.
On the criticism that he is receiving money for paid speeches during his tenure as RNC Chairman:
Brody: Are you comfortable with the fact that you’ve done some of these and what do you tell your critics who have been pummeling you on this issue?
Steele: Well, my critics don’t know history or they ignore history. Most RNC chairmen have outside income as long as it doesn’t conflict with the rules or the requirements of the RNC. I got clearance. I was giving paid speeches two or three years before I became chairman. It was part of my job. That was how I made my living.
I give 12 motivational speeches in the course of doing 500 RNC events last year and everyone thinks that somehow I’m robbing a bank. But I’m not and it’s consistent with what the RNC will allow and what the past practices have been.
Steele Says God has placed him in this RNC position for a reason:
Steele: A lot of people think that this is about me. It is not about me. I’m not defined by this job. When this job is over I will go back to doing something else. But God, I really believe, has placed me here for a reason because who else and why else would you do this unless there’s something inside of you that says right now you need to be here to do this? And there’s going to be a lot of ugly that comes after you. But if you stay true and you stay faithful to what brought you into this party and why you believe so much that what this administration is doing is wrong for America, then I’m good.
You can say whatever you want about me. You can write whatever you want about me. I sleep very well at night, Washington. I really do because I know who has my back: the people of America and that is what we fight for everyday.
Steele clarifies the remarks he made to Sean Hannity and says Republicans can win House in 2010 but "40 seats is a lot of seats":
Steele: When Sean asked me the question, maybe I took it too literally because he asked me will you take control. And of course my brain is going, 'Well, I’m doing all this, I’ve got all these vacancies here. Forty seats is a lot of seats to take at one time. That means you need to have 40 candidates that can knock off some pretty strong Democrats in some of these districts right?
I gave an honest assessment, and some of my friends here didn’t like it. But what I was trying to say was we are going to work hard but I’m not in the business of prognosticating and guaranteeing anything.
What I can say and what I can guarantee is that we will put resources, we will put organization, and we will put infrastructure on the ground to make sure those general election nominees, candidates win. And we will do everything in our power to win.
Can we take the House back in November? Yes. Will we? I don’t know. We still have vacancies. We still have candidates who are trying to decide if they’re going to run. We still need to target all the areas where we have the greatest chance of winning seats.