During an interview on MSNBC this morning, RNC Chairman Michael Steele oddly agreed that if the Republican Party cannot pull out a victory against incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine in the upcoming New Jersey gubernatorial race, it should just give up and cease to exist.
“If Chris Christie doesn’t win under these circumstances in New Jersey, should the Republican Party just fold in that state?” NBC’s Chuck Todd asked, getting a laugh out of Steele. Todd likened the Republicans to a Charlie Brown character. “It’s like Lucy and the football — Lucy is about to pull the football away again.”
Steele accepted the premise. “You’re absolutely right, Chuck,” Steele said, countering with his own pop culture metaphor:
Have you seen those commercials the NFL is running with the referee who is tripping up the players and getting into the game? Well, I’m that referee getting into the game. And we’re doing everything we can to keep that football in place for Chris Christie to kick that extra point, if you will.
Of course, referees are supposed to be unbiased observers who have authority to enforce the rules of a contest — hardly the proper analogy for the head of a political party wading into a political race to help his favored candidate.
Moreover, Steele’s more appropriate role as a “referee” in another political race is sure to anger the right-wing base of his party. When asked who he was supporting in the New York 23rd congressional race, Steele sided against the tea party activists’ favored candidate, Doug Hoffman. “I support the Republican nominee, as a Republican Party chairman,” Steele said. “And that’s the way to go, right?” Watch it:
National Republican leaders don’t agree that endorsing Republican candidate DeDe Scozzafava is “the way to go.” In supporting Hoffman, Sarah Palin said her endorsement would be a message to party leaders of “no more politics as usual.” Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) said that “we cannot send more politicians to Washington who wear the Republican jersey on the campaign trail but then vote like Democrats in Congress.”
Steele and former Speaker Newt Gingrich are increasingly standing alone in their support of the Republican candidate. Roll Call reports that on Tuesday, “former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) spurned the leadership by endorsing Doug Hoffman’s third-party campaign in the New York special election, following the lead of Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).”