Defiant Steele announces bid for second term at the helm of RNC

December 14, 2010

By Ralph Z. Hallow and David Eldridge, The Washington Times

Embattled Republican Party Chairman Michael S. Steele announced Monday that he will run for a second two-year term next month, setting up a pitched battle for control of the party as it seeks to build on the big gains it made in November’s midterm elections.

Mr. Steele, who has proved a combative and at times polarizing figure as head of the Republican National Committee, confounded political handicappers, who predicted he would step aside after a tumultuous two years at the helm of the RNC.

Jim Bopp, a Republican National Committee member from Indiana, told The Washington Times that Mr. Steele announced his decision in a conference call with supporters and officials of the 168-memberRNC on Monday evening.

Mr. Steele ended the 40-minute call by playing what Mr. Boppdescribed as the “race card.”

“Who you elect as our next Chairman will speak volumes about our willingness to truly be the party of Lincoln,” Mr. Steele said.

Mr. Bopp took umbrage with the statement.

“It is apparent that when Steeleloses, he wants to take down the RNC with him,” Mr. Boppsaid. “This is the threat he has made by playing the race card – he will smear the RNC by saying we are all racist by not voting for him.”

The decision by Mr. Steele caps months of speculation, controversy and behind-the-scenes political maneuvering by the chairman’s critics and supporters alike as his two-year term was drawing to a close.

“Tonight, I come to my bosses with a record that only you can judge, based upon directions you made clear to me from the very beginning,” Mr. Steele said in his conference call. “Yes, I have stumbled along the way, but have always accounted to you for such shortcomings. No excuses. No lies. No hidden agenda.”

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