Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who was defeated for re-election at the party’s meeting just this past Friday, is now popping up again on cable TV. And in an appearance this afternoon on Hardball, the previously gaffe-tastic Steele was…a remarkably level-headed pundit, with the weight of the RNC taken off his shoulders.
At one point, Steele defended his fundraising record. “Well we raised enough money. $192 million is a lot money,” said Steele. “And a lot of folks want to sneeze at that. That’s a lot of money — at least in my neighborhood, I don’t know about anybody else’s. (Laughs.)”
At one point, Chris Matthews tried to get Steele to dish on how it feels to be one of the few African-Americans at Republican gatherings, with Matthews talking about how few he’s seen and the way in which they tend to not be together.
Steele started by laughing off the question. “Look we could’ve used a few more brothers in the house, there’s no doubt about that,” he said, laughing — then immediately straightened up. “No, seriously.”
Matthews asked whether African-Americans felt at home at GOP gatherings. Here, Steele used this as an opportunity to promote his efforts at outreach, to build the party within minority communities — and how various minority GOP candidates were in fact elected this past year.
“I don’t know if the question is how at home you feel. I tried to do — or what I can speak to is my two years as chairman, what I tried to do was to broaden the landscape on which we could play,” said Steele. “Go into neighborhoods where we needed to be and haven’t been in generations. And I think it made a difference: Tim Scott, Allen West coming to Congress; Nikki Haley in South Carolina as governor, [New Mexico Governor] Susana Martinez. So broadening the party’s base is gonna be important.”
Matthews asked: “Are you happy with what you got done?”
“I’m very happy with what we’ve gotten done, yeah,” Steele replied.
Later, fellow panelist Eugene Robinson said that President Obama’s recent speech in Tucson seemed to be an effort to restart a bipartisan political dialogue and cooperation in the country. Steele then added to Robinson’s point with his own prediction.
“You’re gonna watch the president with his State of the Union bring Tucson to Washington,” said Steele. “And he’s gonna do it in a way in which he’ll begin to wrap his policies around this idea of a better America with less noise, less vitriol, and less dissension on policy issues.”