When he was running for chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele frequently came under attack from those who felt he was insufficiently committed to the right-wing agenda, with Don Wildmon of the American Family Association even sending out an email attacking Steele.
But now that he has been elected to take over the RNC, Steele got right to work trying to win his critics over:
Michael S. Steele, whose sixth-ballot victory Friday made him the first black leader of the Republican Party, immediately began mending fences within the Republican National Committee and showing conservative leadership muscle after the long and nasty five-way contest for chairman.
Mr. Steele began his first day as national chairman with several members saying that he has a number of formidable tasks ahead, chief among them to unite the ideological and regional factions in the party that have become increasingly obvious.
In particular, party officials said, Mr. Steele will have to use his considerable charm and rhetorical skills to allay the fear among conservatives in the South that he is too moderate.
[Bauer] does not share the concerns of some conservatives who worry that Steele is too moderate on social issues and may move the party in a more centrist direction.
“I know him personally. He’s a smart guy, and I think he understands that the only chance that the Republican Party has in the future is to be consistent about its core message — and that core message is smaller government, lower taxes, a strong national defense, pro-family, and pro-life,” he contends. “So, I do not see Michael Steele in any way undermining any of those key, central ideas that are held so strongly by most conservatives and most Republicans.”
Presumably, this is not going to assure Bauer’s allies on the right:
Michael Steele, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee wants the GOP to reach out to candidates who support gay marriage and are pro-choice. Steele told Fox’s Chris Wallace that it was “important” to reach out to those voters.
WALLACE: You are one of the co-founders of something called the Republican Leadership Council which supports candidates who favor abortion and gay rights.
WALLACE: Does the GOP needs to do a better job of reaching out to people who hold those views?
STEELE: I think — I think that’s an important opportunity for us, absolutely. Within our party we do have those who have that view as well as outside and my partnership with Christy Todd Whittman was an effort to build a bridge between moderates and conservatives.
So far, we haven’t seen any press releases or commentary from other Religious Right groups and leaders, which makes us suspect that they are none-too-pleased with the RNC’s choice … but at least they are not losing their minds, like David Duke:
I am glad these traitorous leaders of the Republican Party appointed this Black racist, affirmative action advocate to the head of the Republican party because this will lead to a huge revolt among the Republican base. As a former Republican official, I can tell you that millions of rank-and-file Republicans are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore! We will either take the Republican Party back over the next four years or we will say, “To Hell With the Republican Party!” And we will take 90 percent of Republicans with us into a New Party that will take its current place!