Chairman Steele urges unity
RNC Chairman Michael Steele came to Utah this past week for a Utah GOP fundraiser and town hall meeting. At the fundraising luncheon held at the downtown Marriott, Steele addressed a group of about 150 party faithful by talking about his background as a “black, conservative Roman Catholic” growing up in DC. An entertaining speaker, he joked about how no one wanted to claim being a Republican back on February 1. “Who me? Republican? No way”, was the response of many. Obama’s approval rating was sky-high, and the main-stream media was sure Republicans were “done”. However, “reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated”, he quipped.
Now, just eight months later, Obama’s approval rating is down, the Congressional approval rating is in the toilet and Dems – in all polls – are facing losses in 2010. There is an renaissance of the “silent majority” who do not like the direction the country is careening. “We have the attention of the American people, something we haven’t had for a long time”, said Chairman Steele. He went on to ask “Did you ever think that the arrogance of power would lead to the empowerment of the grassroots and the knowledge that ‘we the people’ have a say?” People are awake, people are engaged in ways they have never been in our lifetimes. “We have been given a blessing here”, he said. “We can talk openly about our conservative ideals and how we are different.”
He cautioned members of the audience to avoid nit-picking, to stop focusing on differences within the party and to embrace all who want to call themselves Republicans. Using 4 volunteers, he gave the example of each one wearing their “GOP hat” a different way, yet all were wearing the hat – that’s all that mattered. He encouraged the group to avoid in-fighting, to be unified and to not let arrogance lead them to take Utah’s “Red State” designation for granted. “Virginia used to be a red state”, he pointed out, “and it went to Obama by 8 points last November.” He told them that the rules have changed – they can no longer “assume” that things will be handed to them – they must get out there and work to engage the voters, work to earn the votes. His message was one of setting aside differences and working unitedly to bring about the kind of change that is good for America. He also acknowledged that the Republican party has made mistakes – many of them – but has learned from them. He also pointed out – by name – people in the Utah GOP that are out there leading the way – Chairman Dave Hansen, Vice-chair Morgan Philpot, past chair Stan Lockhart, National Committeeman Bruce Hough and National Committeewoman Enid Mickelson and again invited all to join together in unity.