CSPAN January 3, 2011: With the Jan. 14 vote for the next chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) approaching, RNC Chairman Michael Steele faced-off against challengers to his position in a debate in Washington, D.C. earlier today.
In his bid for a second term, Chairman Steele defended his work building GOP momentum last year and responded to criticism of his leadership saying, "When I began this job in 2009, we couldn't find anyone to say they were a Republican, let alone run."
He has taken credit for the November mid-term election GOP takeover of the U.S. House and the gain of six Republican seats in the Senate. Still, his contenders have argued that the Tea Party movement and other factors led to the victory, not the current RNC leadership. Steele’s rivals are also critical of his fundraising efforts and the RNC’s estimated $25 million post-election debt.
The five other candidates include former Michigan Republican Chairman Saul Anuzis, former RNC official Maria Cino, and former Ambassador to Luxembourg Ann Wagner. Last night, former RNC Political Director Gentry Collins announced that he was dropping out of the race.
LINK: CSPAN VIDEO of DEBATE (91 mins)
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HUMAN EVENTS: No Dents In Steele At RNC Debate
Following the debate between the five candidates for Republican National Chairman yesterday, two conclusions were reached by nearly everyone present for the 90-minute session at the National Press Club (and quite a few I spoke to who had watched it on television):
First, for all their criticism in print and on-line of incumbent Chairman Michael Steele, none of his four opponents in the race (which will be decided at the RNC winter meeting next week) landed a knock-out blow or even roughed up the embattled RNC chief….
The lion’s share of the questions dealt with process—how the party can get out of its $20 million post-election debt, what is the most important task of the RNC chairman, what they thought of the party’s 72-hour get-out-the vote program before election day, and whether the nomination of controversial Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell in Delaware was “a triumph of principle” or “disaster.” (None of the five contenders took the bait on a question that could lead to self-inflicted wounds with either “yes” or “no” responses and all took the occasion to say that nominations were strictly up to state parties).