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Roger Stone: Steele Misunderstands Role

Wednesday, 04 Mar 2009 02:05 PM

By Rick Pedraza

Political analyst and commentator Roger Stone blames Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s shaky start on not understanding his role as leader of all Republicans.

In an exclusive Newsmax interview, Stone chastises Steele for suggesting that he would work against GOP rogue Sens. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine in the 2010 primaries because of their votes for the “so-called stimulus” bill.

“It is not the national chairman’s job to weed people out of the party,” Stone tells Newsmax TV. “It’s his job to bring people into the party. The national chairman’s role is to unite the party and mediate between the factions. It is not to write people out of the party and make the party narrower based. Steele needs to understand his role as national chairman: he is the chairman of all Republicans, regardless of stripe. I would remind you of Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: ‘Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill of Thy Brother Republican.’”

[Editor's Note: Watch Roger Stone discuss Michael Steele’s missteps - Go Here Now]

Stone objects to Steele's attempt to drum Specter, Snowe, and Collins out of the Republican Party by threatening to withhold party funds for their re-election campaigns, and doing so in a very flippant way.

“We do not strengthen the Republican Party by making it smaller and narrower,” Stone chastises. “I happen to disagree with the three senators’ vote on the stimulus package. It was a pork fest; it was wild spending. On the other hand, you don’t throw people out of the party because of one vote.”

Stone notes that Collins and Snowe vote with Senate Republicans nearly 70 percent of the time, particularly on fiscal matters, and Specter votes with Republicans 60 percent to 65 percent of the time.

“Democrats would vote with us on nothing — on zero!” he says. “I don’t agree with their vote, and I wrote against the entire stimulus bill. But at the same time, there are other votes that will be important. We have a budget vote coming up; we have a union card-check vote coming up. All three of those senators are undecided on those issues and, therefore, still available to us.”

Stone believes it is a mistake for Republicans to reject the three senators or withhold funds for their re-election campaigns because of one vote, albeit an important one.

“I’m not happy with these senators’ vote,” he says, “but I’m not ready to write them out of the party because of one vote.”

Stone thinks the “long knives” in Washington, in many ways, are out for Steele.

“I think, frankly, some of those he defeated in the Republican national chairman’s contest — particularly some of the Bush supporters — are unhappy with his chairmanship. I think the future is fraught with danger for Chairman Steele.”

Stone also defends Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for promoting the mammoth spending package and campaigning with Obama to push the spending bill but doesn’t think Crist has his eye on a U.S. Senate seat in 2010.

“The state of Florida is broke,” he notes. “Charlie Crist was elected to balance the state budget. He is not a federal legislator. It would be virtually irresponsible to turn down the hundreds of million of dollars that this bill will bring Florida. Governor Crist has a narrow focus: balancing the Florida budget and trying to bring prosperity back to Florida. On paper, he’d be a very strong Senate candidate. But, in reality, most Florida voters will want him to remain as governor and finish the job that he was elected to do.

“Florida voters elected Crist to cut property taxes and to lower insurance rates. While he’s working hard on both, he has not achieved either one. Therefore, I think voters will want him to stay on the job he has now and finish it.”

Steele believes writing Crist and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger off “doesn’t strengthen the party. They’re two of the most popular Republican governors, and both are big vote getters. Both of them are good Republicans who are with us most of the time.

“We’re not going to succeed as a majority party by making ourselves smaller.”

Steele and the Republican Party need to “sell the basics in a more inclusive and more persuasive way," Stone says. "Let's face it, when we had the White House and both Houses, our record on spending was not very good. I agree with those who say we need to get back to basics.”

Sticking to conservative principles on terrorism, national defense, taxes, and spending will bring the Republican Party back, he says.

“But, one needs to sell those in a positive way, as opposed to just being ‘against,’” he says. “Being ‘against’ Obama — given the track record of eight years of a Republican presidency that drove our economy into the sewer — is a pretty tough sell.”

Steele’s efforts to attract more minority voters to the Republican Party will work “if it’s not just window dressing," Stone says. "It’s fine to say we want more African-American votes, we want more Hispanic votes, we want more Asian votes. That’s all great, but you have to win those votes, and you do not win those votes by being intolerant.

“We have to recognize that President Obama is still very popular among many of the voters he’s tried to get. Therefore, an unwillingness to work towards some bi-partisan consensus on some issues is counter-productive. It has to be more than window dressing. It has to be a real appeal to those voters based on the fact that we offer a better alternative.”

Republicans need not worry about the Obama administration, Stone says.

“I think this is the wrong fiscal prescription, and when the economy does not improve on the basis of the stimulus bill — and I don’t think it will — then I think the Republican Party will get a whole second look.”

[Editor's Note: Watch Roger Stone discuss Michael Steele’s missteps - Go Here Now]

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