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03-07-09, 12:46 PM #1
When even Fox News admits that infighting is tearing the Republican party apart, you know the GOP is in trouble
While congressional Republicans spar with Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill over spending and economic relief plans, another struggle is under way within the Republican Party over how it can reclaim its former dominance without sacrificing its principles.
This week's dustup between Michael Steele, the new national GOP chairman, and influential conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh underscored the competing dynamics at play as Steele pushes to expand the party beyond its traditional base and Limbaugh warns that base not to stray from conservative ideals.
As a result, many prominent people in the party are laying low, waiting to see whether a unifying voice will emerge to lead the GOP forward.
Some say the spat over Limbaugh's speech last weekend at a conservative conference didn't help. Steele called Limbaugh a mere "entertainer" who is sometimes "incendiary" and "ugly," comments for which Steele later apologized.
"Steele has been M.I.A. on his first month on the job and then he pulled a hand grenade on himself," a GOP strategist, who asked not to be identified for fear of antagonizing party leaders, told FOXNews.com. "Republicans are scratching their heads and wondering is this the person who's supposed to be leading the rebuilding of our party?
"When you completely implode in your first month and you haven't hired anyone, you start to look incompetent," the strategist added.
One member of the Republican National Committee even has called for Steele to resign. Dr. Ada Fisher, North Carolina's national committeewoman, reportedly e-mailed fellow RNC members that Steele is "eroding confidence" in the GOP and that members of his transition team should encourage him to step aside.
"I don't want to hear anymore language trying to be cool about the bling in the stimulus package or appealing to D.L. Hughley and blacks in a way that isn't going to win us any votes and make us frankly appear to many blacks as quite foolish," wrote Fisher, who is one of three black national GOP committee members.
Curt Anderson, a spokesman for Steele, said the controversy surrounding the chairman has been mostly hype, and he claimed that Fisher has an ax to grind against Steele.
"This chairman has said he's made inartful comments and made some mistakes. He said that," Anderson said. "The other thing, he promised in terms of the transition process, there would be major changes. Change is hard and a lot of people don't like it."
Anderson said part of the change was firing most of the staff. He said the RNC has received 1,400 resumes for positions.
"In some ways, this election was a changing of the guard and some of the old guard is not happy," he said.
Brent Woodcox, a spokesman for the North Carolina Republican Party, said the state GOP chairwoman did not agree with Fisher.
"It's far too early to judge Michael Steele on his tenure so far," Woodcox said, before he offered his own assessment.
"I think that he's brought a fresh perspective to the party, one that is looking to broaden the base, not by compromising its values but by going into the communities. I think the chairman is on the right course and if we can stop being distracted by things that don't matter, then we can be in a place where the Republican party can be strong again."
Democrats have reacted with glee to talk of the GOP imploding.
"It seems no one gets honeymoons anymore," said Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh, a former adviser to Sen. John Kerry.
Marsh said Steele made a mistake by showing how he would expand the base without first shoring up the base. But, she said, Steele can learn from former Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, who also made some missteps at the beginning of his tenure before pulling back from the media glare and focusing on rebuilding the party infrastructure.
Anderson said the challenge for the RNC under Steele is making the party more relevant and producing solutions that work.
"I can't emphasize enough we like where the transition is right now," he said. "We understand when you win a close election, you have people within the Beltway waiting for you to make a mistake and kick you. We'll get through that. We think outside the Beltway there's a greater sense of optimism."
03-07-09, 01:18 PM #2
There's going to be some serious birthing pains with the GOP. The liberals and centrists who have pulled the party away from conservatism have to go. If they remain in control there's going to be more defeats for the GOP. There's a possibility here for a major defection of conservatives but I'm not sure how likely that is. If things get worse of the next few years with the country and the GOP fails I think there's a possibility of defection.
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