Steele Delivers Possible Final Chairman’s Report to RNC Winter Meeting, as Vote Nears

By Fred Lucas | January 14, 2011 | 12:38 PM EST

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele makes his remarks during a Republican National Committee Winter Meeting in Oxon Hill, Md., Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

National Harbor, Md. ( – In what might be his last, embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele delivered the chairman’s report at the RNC Winter Meeting in front of a room of RNC members deciding Friday on his reelection.

The chairman’s report was not part of his campaign for reelection, and he was careful to cast the credit for successes of the last two years with RNC members across the country. However, as his reelection seems unlikely, he reminded members to consider where the party stands now compared to two years earlier.

“Efforts of our party, a party once tagged as an endangered species, speak for themselves,” Steele told the RNC gathering. “I hope all of you, regardless of the outcome of this day, appreciate what you’ve done to establish the Republican renaissance that we all talked about two years ago.”

Steele was elected chairman after the 2008 election that saw the election of President Barack Obama and Democrats increase their majorities in Congress. In 2009, Republicans picked up governor’s seats in Virginia and New Jersey.

In early 2010, Republican Scott Brown won the Senate seat of the late liberal Democratic icon Ted Kennedy, and Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in November with 63 new seats and picked up six Senate seats.

But, Steele’s tenure has been filled with gaffes – such as calling Afghanistan Obama’s war and criticizing talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh. The RNC is also $20 million in debt, putting the party in a problematic position going into the 2012 presidential election. The debt and spending problems caused donations to dry up from previous years, which led Steele’s critics to say Republican victories were in spite of him, not because of him.

Steele’s opponents in the race for the national chairmanship are former Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Preibus, former Missouri GOP chairwoman Ann Wagner, former Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis, and former Bush White House and RNC official Maria Cino.

Steele touted the new RNC website that increased traffic by 159 percent. He also praised the GOP victories in mayors and county executive races, before talking again about the successful 2010 mid-term.

“We had a 40 percent turnout, the highest turnout in any turnout in any midterm election,” Steele told the RNC gathering. “You did that. For the first time in history, we had a 50 state strategy.”