When he heard the news this afternoon that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is running for Minority Leader in the 112th Congress, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele smiled wide and clapped his hands. "My breath is taken away by that announcement," he said.
Just days ago, on Election Night, a big red bus with the words "FIRE PELOSI!" stood in front of the RNC headquarters on Capitol Hill, where Steele works. Now, there's a big red sign out front that says "HIRE PELOSI!" As Republicans celebrate their Tuesday night victories--which included taking away Pelosi's Speaker title for next Congress--the RNC chair had polite words to say about the woman Republican candidates across the country vilified during their campaigns this year. "Nancy is one of the best at what she does--from a political standpoint," he said. "If Nancy feels like she has something to contribute, we welcome that."
Steele said he had to think about whether he felt that he himself had anything left to contribute before he announces another run for RNC chair. But he said with a bold "yes" that the RNC was successful under his watch this term. With the committee's 50-state "D2H" strategy--where each state from the first, Delaware, to the last added, Hawaii, was included in campaign efforts--Steele emphasized that the RNC tried to invest as early as possible in state parties and to recruit candidates from the places where they would run.
As for his own leadership, he said that he wants to help his party better understand Washington, his hometown, and "translate for Republicans the uniqueness" of the city. "My leadership style is very different. My experience has dictated a different mold," said Steele, who grew up in Petworth. "I'm from here."