Steele mad that Specter disrespected him: ‘I know his mama didn’t raise him that way.’

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"Steele mad that Specter disrespected him: ‘I know his mama didn’t raise him that way.’"

In response to Sen. Arlen Specter’s switch out of the Republican party, RNC chairman Michael Steele put out a statement saying that the senator “left to further his personal political interests.” Later in the day, however, Steele went on CNN and unleashed his grievances against Specter, who never alerted him to his decision. Angry at being left out of the loop and relegated to irrelevance, Steele invoked all sorts of schoolyard insults:

STEELE: Look, you can tweak my nose and you can step on my toes and you can pull my hair. At some point enough is going to be enough. … Sen. Cornyn went out on the line for this man. For the senator to effectively flip the bird back to Sen. Cornyn and the Republican Senate leadership — a team that has stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004 — to save his hide, to me is not only disrespectful, but it’s just downright rude. I’m sure his mama didn’t raise him this way, and it’s a shame that he’s behaving this way today.

BORDER: Did he give you a heads up on this?

STEELE: No, not at all, which is another form of disrespect that I don’t count. At least give me a call or give the party leadership a call and let us know this is what I’m thinking, this is where I’m going, so it can be repaired. I’m not one to be caught flat-footed about these things. You get on your toes and you respond as quickly as can you.

Watch it:

Steele may still be nursing outstanding hurt feelings against Specter. Last month, the Pennsylvania senator said, “And National Chairman Steele, well he’s said so many contradictory things I wouldn’t pay a whole lot of attention to him.”

Transcript:

CNN: Speaking of political survival — I mean how is this going to impact the Republican party?

BORGER: It has a big impact, no doubt about it. Certainly in the Senate, this puts the Democrats one step closer to 60 votes, which is a huge problem — not for the party per se, but for the country. To give one party control absolutely without the appropriate checks and balance in the Senate is a problematic. So, I think the senator contributing to that speaks volumes for me. And the fact that he would say that, you know, President Obama’s spending binge, you know, the $780 billion in the stimulus and the budget made him realize he’s a Democrat. Well, if spending the hard earned dollars of the American people and redistributing their wealth and moving towards a collectivist socialist approach to government — if that helps you realize you’re a Democrat, then, you know, good riddance.

CNN: Chairman, if you don’t mind, Gloria Borger has been here talking with me throughout the afternoon about this story. I’d love to bring her in on this interview. Gloria, I know you’ve got questions.

STEELE: Hey, Gloria.

BORGER: How are you?

STEELE: I’m good.

BORGER: Mr. Chairman, I guess the question is, could you have stopped Arlen Specter from leaving the party if you had said to him, for example, we’re not going have a republican primary challenger to you, you’re well-known in the state, you might have a shot of getting elected in a state that more Democratic. Why didn’t you clear the field for him to keep him from switching parties, if say he’ doing it out of political survival?

STEELE: I think that, you know, the party doesn’t operate that way. As I said, when this issue first arose, and I was a former state chairman, the national party doesn’t stick its nose in and help direct outcomes. The state party, ultimately working with the candidate, in this case, Sen. Specter, would work through whatever challenges they may face in the primary. The state chair made it clear they would let that process unfold. And Sen. Specter, if he’s challenged, would respond accordingly and have to address and account to the Republican base in the state for his votes.

Look, you can tweak my nose and you can step on my toes and you can pull my hair. At some point enough is going to be enough. For a lot of Republicans, particularly the core base of the party in Pennsylvania, they had reached that threshold. So it would ultimately be for them to decide. So the idea of clearing the decks — and I know the senatorial committee made it clear they were going to support Arlen Specter, endorse him. Sen. Cornyn went out on the line for this man. For the senator to effectively flip the bird back to Sen. Cornyn and the Republican Senate leadership — a team that has stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004 — to save his hide, to me is not only disrespectful, but it’s just downright rude. I’m sure his mama didn’t raise him this way, and it’s a shame that he’s behaving this way today.

BORDER: Did he give you a heads up on this?

STEELE: No, not at all, which is another form of disrespect that I don’t count. At least give me a call or give the party leadership a call and let us know this is what I’m thinking, this is where I’m going, so it can be repaired. I’m not one to be caught flat-footed about these things. You get on your toes and you respond as quickly as can you. But again, it shows a lack of respect for a party that he has pushed to the edge in terms of his vote and in terms of the arguments that he’s made in support of this administration, and I think right now he’s where he belongs and if the Democrats don’t beat him in the primary, we’ll take care of him come the general.

Update
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Also in the CNN interview, Steele said that Obama was “moving towards a collectivist socialist approach to government.” In the past, he has avoided using the term “socialist,” raising the ire of hard right party members. Is Steele now caving to their pressure?

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