Steele, Absent from Debate, Factor in RNC Race

By Staff | December 1, 2010 | 6:16 PM EST

Washington (AP) - Even though he didn't participate, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and his tenure at the helm of the GOP's central committee is dominating a debate among candidates who want to replace him.

At the first public forum for those pursuing the chairmanship, party fundraising played prominently in Wednesday's discussion. Four potential future chairs are criticizing the RNC but are avoiding naming the polarizing incumbent chairman and his record-breaking spending.

Former Missouri GOP chairwoman Ann Wagner, former RNC political director Gentry Collins, former Michigan chairman Saul Anuzis and former RNC chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan are all promising to improve the committee and raise millions of dollars.