GOP Keeping Michael Steele on ‘Short Leash’

What’s next?

Whips and chains?

According to a story called: GOP Leaders to Michael Steele: Back off, on, GOP leaders, in a private meeting last month, delivered a blunt and at times heated message to RNC Chairman Michael Steele: quit meddling in policy. The plea was made during what was supposed to be a routine discussion about polling matters and other priorities in House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office. But the session devolved into a heated discussion about the roles of congressional leadership and Steele, according to multiple people familiar with the meeting.Steele was taken aback by the comments from Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Senate GOP Conference Chairman of Tennessee and Senate GOP Policy Chairman John Thune of South Dakota and grew defensive during the 10-minute discussion, according to two people in the room.

First, the RNC stripped Steele of the authority to make big financial decisions. Now, GOP heavyweights are telling him to pipe down and do no more than what he’s told to do.

And support for Steele does not appear to be growing:

There are larger issues at hand, though, beyond a tense exchange over strategy. Since Steele took over the party earlier this year, congressional leaders and their staff have often cringed at the voluble chairman’s gaffes and rolled their eyes at his unambiguous view that he alone leads the party.

“He’s on a short leash here,” said one top House GOP leadership aide.

At the same time, Steele and his backers can be annoyed at what they see as the know-it-all arrogance and even jealousy of some in their party’s congressional wing.

I would defy anyone that it wasn’t politically smart” to issue the bill of rights, said a Steele ally, arguing that it painted Democrats as hypocrites for wanting to cut Medicare after they’ve spent years accusing Republicans of wanting to do the same.

However, reports that there is some lingering resistance among the party’s congressional leaders and their top aides to fully embrace Steele as chairman, the Steele associate said.

“None of this surprises me, writes Carmen Dixon, especially now, given that the hard right is the most powerful contingent in today’s Republican party. In fact, I have never heard any GOP heavyweight (other than Newt Gingrich) echo Steele’s stated goals of reaching out to communities of color to bring them into the Republican party.”

Have YOU?”

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