Last week, RNC Chairman Michael Steele made headlines by announcing a surprise bid to run for another term as the leader of the Republican Party. However, not only are many other candidates in the race, but several RNC committee members, the longtime party leaders who vote in the RNC Chair election, have called Steele a failure.
One of the most vocal opponents of Steele is Jim Bopp, a powerful RNC committee member known for his role in tearing down campaign finance and disclosure laws. Bopp, who is viewed as a leader among the RNC’s most committed ideologues, accused Steele of “playing the race card” by ending his candidacy announcement with an appeal to elect a RNC chairman who “will speak volumes about our willingness to truly be the party of Lincoln.”
On a Maryland radio show last week, Steele responded by mocking Bopp as an “idiot” who is upset for losing a lucrative contract with the RNC:
WBAL: Jim Bopp, who is an RNC committee member from Indiana, told the Washington Times — and I want to get your response to this — that you ended your 40 minute call with folks yesterday by using the race card. “Who you elect,” he said, “would speak volumes about our willingness to be the party of Lincoln.” What do you think about what Mr. Bopp is saying?
STEELE: Well, Mr. Bopp is an idiot. If he took that away from, and I don’t want to be crass and I don’t want to throw stones at him but I just think that’s an idiotic statement to make. I refer to myself as a Lincoln Republican, that’s who I am. I define myself through the party origins, the party that spoke to and about the freedom and emancipation of all people, not just black folks. […] Jim Bopp has been against my chairmanship from the very beginning, and I understand that, maybe it has something to do with my cutting his million dollar contract with the RNC, I don’t know. Regardless of that, the reality of it is, it’s crazy.
Steele regularly charges that Democrats “play the race card.” For instance, Steele blasted former president Jimmy Carter for noting that some of the opposition to Obama stems from race. Apparently Steele feels comfortable lobbing the charge of “race card” politics at his opponents, but became incensed when others use the same rhetoric against him. Ironically, Steele has said that he suffers from a “slimmer margin” of error as RNC chair because of his race.