I wanted Ken Blackwell running this machine. I still do. Whatever, Steele has to go.
Conservative commentator William Kristol immediately called for Steele to resign.
“At a time when Gen. [David] Petraeus has just taken over command, when Republicans in Congress are pushing for a clean war funding resolution, when Republicans around the country are doing their best to rally their fellow citizens behind the mission, your comment is more than an embarrassment. It’s an affront, both to the honor of the Republican Party and to the commitment of the soldiers fighting to accomplish the mission they’ve been asked to take on by our elected leaders,” he writes in a post at The Weekly Standard.
Steele released a statement in which he walked back his comments and voices support for the war.
“There is no question that America must win the war on terror,” he said. “During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan. Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy. And, for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war.”
The RNC staff sought to tamp down the controversy—ill-timed ahead of the July 4 holiday—by circulating a memo to reporters highlighting the chairman’s support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The memo is title: “RNC Chairman Michael Steele Has Been A Consistent, Vocal Supporter Of The Wars In Afghanistan And Iraq.”
It may not be enough to appease conservatives, many of whom are already tired of Steele’s lengthy record of verbal gaffes and fund-raising controversies since he took over the party committee in January 2009.
“The war in Afghanistan is not a war of Barack Obama’s choosing. It is a war of Al Qaeda and the Taliban’s choosing. We responded. Michael Steele must resign. He has lost all moral authority to lead the GOP,” Erick Erickson of RedState.com, a popular conservative blog, wrote this afternoon.