The Republican National Committee invited reporters to listen via conference call to new Chairman Michael Steele’s pep talk to House Republicans at their weekend retreat. If there was a revelation, it’s that Steele seems more comfortable high-fiving like-minded conservatives than telling Maryland voters that he’s not a real Republican, and it’s OK for them to vote for him. Early in the call, he promised Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House minority whip, that he’d give him the “word from the street” on the House Republicans’ vote against the stimulus package.
Let me start by saying, the goose egg that you laid on the president’s desk was just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Now, folks, I know we’re in the era of bipartisanship, but it’s easy to be bipartisan when you outnumber the minority two to one. Anyone can be bipartisan then. But I thought it was very, very important that you sent a signal, and you sent it loudly and very clearly, that this party, that the leadership of this caucus, will stand first and foremost with the American people. You made it very clear that in order to grow through this recession, that you would not redistribute the wealth of the people of this nation. That you would empower them to earn it, invest it, save it, and spend it on their terms.
Steele couldn’t praise them enough, and at times, he was at a loss for words. “You and I know that in the history of mankind and womankind, government—federal, state or local—has never created one job,” he said. “It’s destroyed a lot of them.”
He added that the GOP’s next four targets would be the open House seat in the 20th District of New York, the governor’s offices in New Jersey and Virginia, and the state legislatures that will run redistricting after the next census.
Also, for reasons I’m less clear about, Iran-Contra alum Oliver North was in the room with the House Republicans, and Steele singled him out for praise.