Friday, September 24, 2010

AP-Michael "Putney Swope" Steele Gets "Tough" on the GOP

Michael Steele
(Story reported by Andrew DeMillo for The Associated Press)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Thursday he's tired of infighting within GOP ranks after heated primaries this year, telling party members they must stay unified to win in November.

Steele rallied activists during a stop at the Arkansas Republican Party headquarters in Little Rock. He reiterated the national party's support for the winners of Republican primaries in Delaware and Alaska, where well-known Republicans were defeated by tea party-backed candidates.

"It's important that our party come together, that we work together and we support our nominees and we stay encouraged. I am tired of folks nitpicking and folks backbiting and finding a reason to fight," Steele told the crowd. "Let's fight after we win."

Steele was in Arkansas as part of a national "Fire Pelosi" bus tour aimed at rallying Republican efforts to take back the House in the November elections. Republicans have focused on Arkansas, where Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln is trailing Republican Rep. John Boozman in most polls for her re-election bid and GOP leaders are confident they'll pick up two U.S. House seats currently held by Democrats.

Steele, who also made stops in Tennessee and Mississippi on Thursday, defended the party's efforts after an audience member questioned whether the GOP was interfering to back establishment candidates in Delaware and Alaska.

In Delaware, Rep. Mike Castle — a nine-term moderate Republican congressman — lost the Senate primary last week against Christine O'Donnell. Some national and Delaware Republicans have said O'Donnell cannot win in November against Democratic county executive Chris Coons.

In Alaska, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowksi has mounted a write-in campaign for her re-election bid after losing the GOP primary to tea party favorite Joe Miller.

Steele declined to name who he blamed for the infighting but said he didn't believe it would stymie the party's efforts in November.

(Click here to read the full story on the Associated Press/Google News website.)

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