Tags: steele | romney

Steele Sets Out to Mend Fence with Romney

Wednesday, 13 May 2009 03:04 PM

By Dan Weil

The brouhaha between Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney may now be over.

Steele has expressed remorse for suggesting that Romney lost his presidential bid because of his Mormon faith.

"It was the base that rejected Mitt because it had issues with Mormonism," Steele said last Friday while guest-hosting Bill Bennett’s radio show.

Yesterday, Romney fired back. “Sometimes when you shoot from the hip you miss the target. This is one of those times,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom told The Hill newspaper.

But Steele is now looking to make peace. He "regrets the way his comments have been interpreted," RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told The Hill.

"Chairman Steele believes Mitt Romney is a respected and influential voice in the Republican Party and looks to his leadership and ideas to help move our party and our nation in the right direction."

While Steele’s comments certainly were impolitic, they may have been accurate. A 2007 poll by the Pew Forum found that Republican evangelicals were the most unwilling to contemplate voting for a Mormon -- 36 percent of them felt that way versus 25 percent of the total voting population.

Steele has taken a lot of heat for his propensity to make controversial and combative remarks. But he has a defender in Newt Gingrich.

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 told C-Span recently

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