Kansas Liberty: 13 June 2008
Q & A: GOPAC chair campaigns with Nick Jordan in Kansas City area
Michael Steele: 'To call people "RINOs" is a lie'
Michael Steele, chairman of GOPAC, a national grassroots organization that trains and supports Republican candidates, campaigned Friday with State Sen. Nick Jordan, R-Shawnee, who is seeking to unseat Third District Democratic incumbent Rep. Dennis Moore.
A former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Steele is the first African-American to win statewide office in that state and is also a commentator for the Fox News Channel.
Steele accompanied Jordan when the candidate came to talk with workers at a manufacturing plant, Innovative Adhesives, in Kansas City, Kan. Steele also spoke to local Republicans at a fundraising luncheon at Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills, Kan.
During the visit to the manufacturing plant, Steele and Jordan spoke with Kansas Liberty about this year’s local and national campaigns.
Q: In this election year, do you see many Republican candidates that can be characterized as “RINOs,” meaning Republican in Name Only?
Steele: I reject that phrase. I just think it’s stupid. It says to some candidates, “You’re not pure enough to be a real Republican.” If we truly have a big tent, then to call people RINOs is a lie. We want to respect people with different views. We can have Republicans that are conservative and are liberal, and we won’t kick you out of the party. We are going to campaign for candidates who don’t fit particular molds.
Q: What do you advise Republican candidates running against Democrats this year?
Steele: I tell them to be honest and be yourself. The GOP brand has weakened in the last two or three election cycles. It’s time to turn to our grassroots and have new messages that appeal to people. Tell people you are a candidate who will get government out of their way. Nick Jordan understands this and he’s a leader.
Q: What do you think of Barack Obama as a candidate?
Steele: As an African-American myself, I am proud of him - and I’ll do all I can to defeat him. He is leading us in the wrong direction with the war and the economy. His are not concepts to promote prosperity. We are at a manufacturing plant today. Barack sees this as a place to extract another pound of flesh. John McCain sees this as a place to grow the economy. Those are two different views.
Q: Nick, how to you plan to beat incumbent Dennis Moore?
Jordan: I’m going to hit mainstream issues like the economy. When I go door to door, people say they do not want to pay $4 for gas or $3 for milk. My niche is economic development. I’ll tell people I’ll do what is best for the country and the economy.
Q: Nick, is it an advantage to run as a “Washington outsider” this year?
Jordan: Yes, because voters are mad this year. It's an advantage to run as an outsider now. I believe in helping to grow jobs. Dennis Moore decided to take positions supporting Nancy Pelosi. I think increasing taxes is taking us in the wrong direction.
Steele repeated his call for lower taxes recently in a column on TownHall.com.
He wrote that much has changed since President Ronald Reagan left the national stage, especially increased terrorism, but he said, “Many of the issues that united us during the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s — lower taxes, less government spending, free markets and strong national security — are the same issues that motivate voters today. Reagan’s successes were in large part due to his ability to focus on those things that unite us. Rather than trying to divide the American people along philosophical or political lines, he made a connection with average citizens through themes that inspired us and policies that restored our national pride as well as the security and prosperity of a nation.”
Steele added, “Conservatives must stand firm once again in our belief that government should be limited so that it never becomes powerful enough to infringe on the rights of the individual.
"We must reaffirm the principle of lowering taxes so that individuals might keep more of their hard earned wages, and realize the economic power that it generates. Republicans must promote business regulations that encourage entrepreneurs to take risks so that more individuals can enjoy the satisfaction and fruits of self-made success; and our party must always remain steadfast in its defense of a colorblind society, so that each man or woman is treated as an individual and not as a member of some hyphenated class or group.”
As chairman of GOPAC, Steele has said that the group urges candidates to use new technologies, such the Internet, blogs, mp3s, iPods and CDs, to communicate as widely as possible.
Republicans, he said, should not get “wrapped up in this fairy tale of impending doom” and fall into believing that Democrats will score wide victories this fall.
In a column on www.gopac.org, he wrote, “I believe that if Republicans take a closer look at the impact John McCain will have in this November’s election, down-ticket Republican candidates across the country should be encouraged by the prospect of having McCain lead their ticket this fall...
"Sen. McCain has been a consistent champion for true fiscal restraint — the kind Republicans often talk about but haven’t always followed through on. Unlike lawmakers who, year after year, put in billions of dollars of earmark requests for bridges to nowhere, Woodstock Museums and aging planetariums, McCain has remained a vocal opponent of pork barrel projects.”
Steele succeeds former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., who stepped down after four years as chairman.
Steele, 48, lost a Senate race in Maryland in 2006, and had expressed interest in the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee before the position went to Florida Sen. Mel Martinez.
Story by Steve Baska, freelance political reporter.
Comment: Why Republicans lose, by Denis Boyles