By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele wasn't the religious right's top choice for party head. Not by a long shot. Steele cofounded the Republican Leadership Council, which embraces pro-abortion rights GOPers. Despite Steele's reputation for working with party moderates, though, it's pretty clear that he's launched a serious effort to win over religious conservatives. The website for his chairmanship campaign included a lot more references to his faith and faith-based activities than Sarah Palin's new political action committee site.
A few highlights from Steele's "Personal History and Life Story" page:
President George W. Bush chose Steele to be part of the U.S. delegation to the investiture of Pope Benedict XVI...
He spent three years as a seminarian in the Order of St. Augustine in preparation for the priesthood, but, ultimately, chose a career in law instead.
...he attends mass regularly with his wife Andrea and their two sons Michael and Drew.
Elsewhere on his campaign site, Steele makes the case that he's staunchly antiabortion:
He is a strong advocate for the unborn. And has been a leader on the issue ever since his time studying to be an Augustine monk.
No one should ever doubt Michael Steele's commitment to life. He has been pro-life his entire adult life. In 2006 he was endorsed for US Senate by National Right to Life and Maryland Right to Life. He ran as a staunchly pro-life candidate in a state that rarely elects pro-life candidates.
The Washington Times said, "Mr. Steele is staunchly pro-life (parting with many Republicans who support abortion in cases of rape and incest) and he is a free trader... The Washington Times is pleased to endorse Michael Steele for the U.S. Senate." (October 25, 2006).
Michael Steele supports preserving the pro-life platform.
Michael Steele favors overturning Roe v. Wade and sending the abortion question back to the states where he hopes state legislators will vote to protect life.
Even as he reaches out to the center, Steele isn't billing himself as a social moderate. I wouldn't be surprised if Steele spends a good part of his early days as chairman reaching out to leading evangelical conservatives who were wary of his candidacy. I'll be on the lookout for any such effort and will report back on what I find.