VOL. 125 | NO. 46 | Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Steele Says GOP Has 'No Need to Play Boogeyman'
ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press Writer
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday that he has been the target of the same "kind of stupidity" featured in a recent fundraising pitch to top GOP fundraisers in Florida.
Steele told reporters before a speech at a Shelby County Republican Party fundraiser that he has launched an internal review into why a 72-page Power Point presentation included a direct call to exploit "extreme negative feelings" toward Democrats.
The presentation depicted President Barack Obama as "The Joker," Nancy Pelosi as Cruella De Vil and Harry Reid as Scooby Doo and called on Republicans to "Save the country from tending toward Socialism!"
"I have been the victim of that kind of stupidity, some of my friends like Ken Blackwell and Michael Williams in Texas, Lynn Swann, we have all together been victims of that kind of craziness," Steele said. "And we saw it even last year in the presidential race."
The Tennessee Republican Party came under repeated criticism for its attacks on Obama during the 2008 presidential race. One news release that used Obama's middle name – Hussein – and showed a photo of him wearing what it said was "Muslim attire" was roundly criticized, including by Steele's predecessor Mike Duncan.
Steele said Republicans should focus on issues like jobs, wages and education.
"We don't need to scare anybody into supporting us, financially or politically," he said. "No need to play boogeyman ... We don't need to make stuff up."
Political groups and parties often use highly charged language to motivate their base of voters and contributors. But the RNC document is unusual in revealing a strategy in such candid detail.
Steele said he has launched an internal review of the RNC's finance department and that he will get a full report upon returning to Washington next week.
"Whatever appropriate actions are called for at that point we'll deal with internally," Steele said. "But trust me, I was not happy to see it."
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