May 19, 2009

Steele: GOP must focus on conservative principles

Posted: 01:23 AM ET


RNC chairman Michael Steele will issue a rallying cry to his embattled party in a speech Tuesday.

RNC chairman Michael Steele will issue a rallying cry to his embattled party in a speech Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will tell GOP state leaders Tuesday that they must embrace conservative principles, focus their efforts on rebuilding the party and highlight the policy differences between Republican ideals and President Obama's agenda.

"The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over," Steele will say in a speech to the RNC's 2009 State Chairmen's Meeting, according to excerpts obtained by CNN. "It is done. We have turned the page, we have turned the corner. No more looking in the review mirror. From this point forward, we will focus all of our energies on winning the future."

Congressional Republicans, who were loyal to President Bush throughout a majority of his two terms, largely sought to break with him in the 2008 elections because he had become a political liability.Over the past few months, GOP lawmakers have acknowledged that the party moved away from one of its core principles of smaller government and less federal spending during the Bush era.

Steele, who was elected to head the party in January, will say the GOP is now "beginning to rally" at the grassroots level after losing control of the White House and additional seats in the Senate and House in November.

"Those of you who actually attend Lincoln Day dinners, county party events, and tea parties…those of you who toil in the vineyards, spending time in communities, in diners, barber shops, and coffee shops where real every day people can be found…you know it is real," Steele will say, according to the excerpts.

The RNC chairman faces a difficult task of keeping the party united as different political factions maneuver to try and influence what political direction the GOP should head. Social conservatives argue that the party needs to return to its roots on issues such as abortion and stem cell research while centrists counter the GOP needs to be welcoming of all Republicans including those who believe in a more liberal political ideology.

Already, there have been casualties in this political fight. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter recently became a Democrat, saying that he realized his political views were no longer in line with the Republican Party, and admitting he would have faced a difficult GOP primary in his re-election bid. Former Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, who is now the president of the centrist organization Republican Main Street Partnership, told CNN he thought Specter "was pushed" out of the party, and warned that other centrist GOP lawmakers might also leave if they no longer feel welcomed.

And in a recent appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, former Vice President Dick Cheney said he preferred conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh over his former colleague, Secretary of State Colin Powell, when it came to Republican politics. Powell had endorsed Obama over Republican nominee John McCain in the 2008 election.

In his speech, Steele will point to the late President Ronald Reagan, the architect of the modern-day Republican Party, to explain his own view on the GOP's future.

"As conservatives we must stop acting like we don't really believe in our principles," Steele will say. "Too often we act as if we are scared to apply our timeless principles to today's problems and challenges… For Reagan's conservatism to take root in the next generation we must offer genuine solutions that are relevant to this age."

And when it comes to the president, Steele will charge that on the campaign trail "Obama was very moderate in his views," but that since taking office the president "could not possibly be further to the far left."

"We are going to take this President on with class, we are going to take this President on with dignity," Steele will say. "This will be a very sharp and marked contrast to the shabby and classless way that the Democrats and the far left spoke of the last President."

The RNC meeting wraps up on Wednesday with a scheduled vote on a controversial resolution that calls on Democrats to rename their party the "Democrat Socialist Party."

Filed under: GOP • Larry King Live • Politics

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brett j.   May 19th, 2009 1:39 am ET

larry- im happy you are getting to know your son larry jr.- i grew up next to him in miami- he was a very close friend until i moved back to minnesota with my parents at the age of 8. that was i believe in 1970. his mother annette stayed in touch with my mother over the years until we found out she had passed on. i have always wondered what became of larry jr. and am glad he found what he was meant to do. good luck to you both in your successful careers. brett in minnesota

lostemperor   May 19th, 2009 4:37 am ET

Especially for conservatives but also democrats, socialism, in America among other, is the poor helping the rich instead of the other way around! Slaves/cheap labour helping landowners/multi-nationals getting whealthy. Tax payers bailing out banks. The poor helping the rich to get richer or at least not getting much poorer in this crisis.
Regards, Patrick

Dave of Detroit   May 19th, 2009 7:11 am ET

Steel has better be careful with this one as President Obama is a tremendous admirer of Lincoln who was the founder of the Republican Party! I have watched as both parties have made a mockery of the Constitution of the United States-got to give Leno credit for stating the obvious. They have been given generous help and support by the Supreme Court and the spread of the authority and abuse of power by the Federal Government has States inacting their Rights under the Separation of of State and Federal jurisdiction is now reaching a frenzy. To me it is a proper resonse to the rule of minorities using political action groups and the totally unAmerican ACLU to pass laws that directly counter any semblance of rule by the people and the Federal Government has become so intrusive into the lives of the people that are supposed to rule them that we had a rule of three men under President Bush with help from an additional nine Supreme Court Justices that have taken over control over the Nation-I am not sure what kind of Government that is-Maybe a control bt the buck and for the buck and sadly, the majority is not stoping the process and being dominated by passing the buck!

Michael C. McHugh   May 19th, 2009 8:14 am ET

I'm not sure they ever did change those principles. During the last hundred years, the Republican Party has been the party of 19th Century, free market capitalism, business interests, low taxes on the rich, and small government–except for the military and police forces, of course. In those matters, the Republicans are a big government party.=, as they are on moral regulation of society according to "Chritsian" (evangelical Protestant) values.

Some of their presidents like Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt, however, broke with these 19th Century principles and accepted many of the liberal reforms of the 20th Century–as indeed they had to if they wanted to be elected. They were at least as popular in their day as "true conservatives" like Reagan, and more so than other conservatives like Harding and Hoover. On the whole, though, I'm just not sure how far the whole party ever moved in that direction.

They went along with the big deficits of Reagan and Bush Junior because most of those were due to military spending, although they balked at the (very modest) social spending required for "compassionate conservatism"–and in that case the compassion was VERY limited, but they still didn't like it. Of course, the thing that really upset them was TARP and the bailout of Wall Street, even though Bush Junior thought it was necessary to save capitalism itself.

As for me, I'm not sure that it's worth saving, especially at that price, and for the Republicans, it represented a 100% contradiction of their whole philosophy. Free market capitalists–and all of us–are supposed to be rugged individualists like John Wayne, who sink or swim on their own with no help from the government. what does it say about their philosophy, or indeed the system of capitalism itself, when it cannot survive without trillions of dollars from the government?

Republicans just don't think this way, though. rather than question their basic philosophy of laissez faire capitalism, they have doubled down on it and will hear nothing else. I think it's a mistake, for the whole world saw American capitalism collapse, and how presidents and politicians of BOTH parties rushed to save it–just basically wrote the capitalists a blank check with no questions asked.

Justice for the Righteous   May 19th, 2009 2:18 pm ET

Shamed Speaker Michael Martin resigns .
Is Nancy Pelosi next....?

Dave of Detroit   May 19th, 2009 4:16 pm ET

Hi Justice-I just want her miles to be cancelled with the Defense Department before she starts a war on one of her "Surprise" fact finding tours to Iraq. I have nightmares over the U.S. going to war because Speaker Pelosi was shot down over some Country by terrorists. My main worry is that it might be over the USA!

Eugene Coard   May 19th, 2009 8:58 pm ET

Hello Mr. King. and i mean Mr. King. The king of Talk. I am a 50 years listener, since 1959, I lived in Brooklyn N.Y. from 1956 to 1990, there was very little TV after 2 am. in those days so radio was my thing Larry King, Symphony Cid, William B. William. there were a Revend on late night radio t think he was on WOR. I don't remember his name, but we need him now, His program was to help folks with their bills, he would ask folks to call in and give money to help others. We need him today. His theam song was somebody cares about you and every little thang that you may do. Thank you Mr King. Eugene Coard From Duham N.C.

Janette   May 20th, 2009 1:28 pm ET

Steele is still having problems firguring what
his job is.Attacking the President hasn't
worked so calling the dem. party socialist
is supposed to do what(?) He sucked up to
Rush and kissed his behind and now expects
to be taken seriously as a leader when all he
does is hate on the President and utter hollow
words that amount to nothing.He has no appeal
no smarts and no idea what time it is.Just another
field negro trying to make it to the"house"!!!

Janette   May 20th, 2009 1:41 pm ET

.....He still doesn't realize he's a "token' just being used.
The more he attacks the President the better he makes
him look.So keep running your mouth "token"!!!!

janette   May 21st, 2009 3:17 am ET

Just a little something for Rush.....Next time ya start to blow
your hot air may you EXPLODE!!!!!! And the world will be a
better place.

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