Tags: gingrich | Steele | RNC

Gingrich: Steele Not Knuckling Under to RNC Egos

Friday, 01 May 2009 03:01 PM

By Dan Weil

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich voiced support for Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who has alienated several party officials.

“Steele is a huge shock because he is different,” Gingrich said during an interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal show.

“He is not just different because he is an African-American; he’s different because he is a free spirit,” Gingrich said. “He’s used to saying what he thinks. He’s controversial. He has enormous energy and great self-confidence.”

Steele’s real problem as RNC chairman is that “he probably has not yet learned the art of massaging the egos of RNC members,” Gingrich said.

“The Republican National Committee is this tiny group of people, some of whom have been there 20 years or more,” he said.

“And they all think they're precious. And they all think they should be taken care of. And they all think that the job of the chairman first of all is to make the RNC members happy.”

Thus tension has risen, Gingrich said. The solution: “I hope Steele continues to evolve and grow and learn. He’s had a challenging opening couple of months.”

“There’s a huge jump from being an analyst who only shows up for a couple minutes to being a national political figure, where the news media is after you every morning, offering you a chance to hang yourself.”

Last week, RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen, the Arizona state party chairman, suggested to Steele new guidelines that would have given the chairman less leeway to spend the committee’s funds.

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