Since he was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele has been, to put it mildly, somewhat gaffe-prone. In his defense, though, at least you can say that many of his more embarrassing moments came as aprt of his attempts to make his party more welcoming — and more appealing — to minorities. His latest misstep, though, seems likely to set that effort back.
On Sunday, Steele was on NewsOne, a network aimed at African Americans, for a political talk show hosted by Roland Martin. During the program, Martin and Steele had this exchange:
MARTIN: But your candidates got to talk to them. One of the criticisms I’ve always had is Republicans — white Republicans — have been scared of black folks.
STEELE: You’re absolutely right. I mean I’ve been in the room and they’ve been scared of me. I’m like, “I’m on your side” and so I can imagine going out there and talking to someone like you, you know, [say] “I’ll listen.” And they’re like “Well.” Let me tell you. You saw in Christie and you saw in McDonnell a door open because they went in and engaged. McDonnell was very deliberate about spending…
STEELE: I mean, Sheila Johnson was on his team. I mean, that was a big deal. That’s because he engaged her and she helped navigate him through that relationship.
White Republicans, plenty of whom were already less than thrilled with Steele’s tenure, arent’ happy about what their party’s chairman had to say. And you can rest assured, too, that Democrats will want to use this against the GOP, both now and down the road.
Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.More Alex Koppelman.