FrumForum’s Tim Mak lands an exclusive interview with the recently deposed chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele. Speaking in regard to the new chairman Reince Priebus — the former general counsel under Steele — the ex-chairman says, “I know exactly how Caesar felt.” Read more here.
Newly elected chairman Reince Priebus has fired the 2012 convention staff. In a statement to the press, Priebus writes:
“We are committed to holding a world-class 2012 Republican National Convention that will be worthy of the next President of the United States. There are some changes that need to be made to ensure a successful convention. Those changes start today. I have discontinued the employment of the convention liaison and the employees of the Committee on Arrangements, effective immediately. I look forward to bringing on top-notch staff and planning a convention that all Republicans, especially our 2012 Presidential nominee, can be proud of.”
Reince Priebus spoke to the press after winning the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.
“First of all my name is Reince Priebus,” he joked, stressing the pronunciation of his name. “We need to build on the success we had in 2010,” he added.
Asked how serious the RNC debt is, priebus responded, “we’re looking at least $20 million in debt.” Despite those troubles Priebus thanked the other candidates, especially Michael Steele.Challenged on his experience, Priebus noted “Wisconsin is a target state.”
“We’re going to take the executive committee and they’re going to be the transition committee.” Asked how relevant the RNC is in the days of 527s, Priebus maintained the GOP would raise $400 million in the next cycle.Priebus then ran back into the Potomac ballroom to continue the RNC winter meeting.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich issued the following statement reacting to the election of Reince Priebus as RNC Chairman:
“Reince Priebus will be an extremely effective RNC Chairman. His victories and accomplishments as Chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party were extraordinary and I am confident that the national Republican Party will find similar success under his leadership.”
“Reince Priebus’ election as RNC Chairman is a major step toward making Obama a one term President.”
“I am so blessed,” Priebus said as he took the helm of the RNC. ”We can’t wait to get to work.”
Priebus thanked GOPl eaders from his home state of Wisconsin, including Ron Johnson and Paul Ryan. He also thanked the other candidates, and Michael Steele in particular.”We have to get on track and together we can beat Barack Obama in 2012. . . . We must come together,” he said. Priebus later said he would serve “in humility.”
“Together we must lead the way to a better committee and a better America.” Priebus said the RNC was the “board of directors” and he the “CEO”, but that all members were employees of GOP voters. “With this new focused leadership, the RNC will move forward.”
“It is time that the committee heals . . . and remember our job to beat Barack Obama in 2012,” Wagner said.
“I want to thank you all . . . I release my supporters, because I respect this process.”
Wagner declined to endorse another candidate.
RNC Watch has learned that House Speaker John Boehner is making calls to RNC members urging them to support Maria Cino. Moments ago Michael Steele urged his supporters to back Cino as well. We’d bet Boehner had something to do with that as well.
“It’s clear the party wants to do things a little bit differently and a little bit better,” Steele says of his withdrawal from the RNC chair race.”Our opportunity rests with the people of America. . . . At this time I step aside to let other people lead.”
“Despite the difficulties, we won,” Steele says to a standing ovation. He implored the crowd to sit but it refused to listen for several seconds. “I’m a little bit obstinate, but I am because I want to fight,” Steele continued.”I release my supporters and ask them to join me in supporting Maria Cino.”
Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Texas GOP, tells RNC Watch he expects an up-tick on the hext ballot from former Steele supporters switching to his preferred candidate, Saul Anuzis. As he was saying this, Anuzis huddled with his supporters, football team-style, and of course shooed off reporters. Fifth ballot is about to get under way
Herb Schoenbohm, Virgin Islands party chair, says chairman Steele “aint pulling out.”
“Games are being played,” he says, again alleging that Priebus thew votes — he says eight — to Cino on the first ballot to give her more strength. He also says Steele loyalists fled the chairman quickly. “They promised him one round only” and some of them went to Wagner.
Schoenbohm predicts “joint resentment” from the camps whose votes are being played with. “This may be a long process,” he warns.
Solomon Yue, RNC committeeman from Oregon, says his effort to dislodge Steele is going “very well.” Now that Steele has lost 7 votes between the first and second ballots, Yue says the Chairman will begin hemorrhaging support. (Steele walked by us as we were talking and told a reporter, “so far so good.”) Yue would not disclose who he is supporting.
Still, Yue denies a rumor making the rounds that Priebus would give Cino 15 votes in the first ballot in an effort to knock out Ann Wagner. Yue says he went to Jim Bopp, a supporter of Priebus, a day or two ago to ask if the rumor were true. Bopp told him it wasn’t. And now that Cino has lost two votes since the first ballot, Yue thinks the evidence supports his interpretation.