Michael Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee on Friday.Michael Steele certainly has the credentials to be GOP chairman: he's experienced, is a great orator and he was a lieutenant governor, but for the GOP and Steele the newly elected GOP chairman needs to prove that he's more than just a "quota" hire if they really want to attract more minority voters. For starters Steele and his brethren need to listen to President Bush and tone down their harsh rhetoric on illegal immigrants--as Bush suggested right before he left office, it just makes his party look xenophobic and does nothing to solve a longstanding, complex problem in America. Unlike any other GOP President George W. Bush drew Hispanics to his party, but thanks to all the divisive talk for illegal immigrants thrown by some Far-Right pols and pundits (in particular Michelle Malkin), John McCain lost many Christian Hispanic voters in the '08 election. By stressing core, conservative values, Steele has to reach out, in particular, to the largest minority population in this country, a group that is as diverse politically as they are ethnically.
Steele, the first African-American to hold the post, defeated South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, 91-77, in the final round of voting among the RNC's 168 members. Only 86 votes were needed.
"This is our opportunity. I cannot do this by myself," he told the crowd at the annual RNC meeting Friday. "God bless you, and God bless our party. ... It's going to be a new day."
Steele also told his fellow party members that it will be a "great honor to spar" with President Obama.
For the duration of his campaign, Steele fought perceptions that he was too moderate to lead the party because of his blue-state roots and his former membership in the Republican Leadership Council, a group that sought to curb the influence of social conservatives in the party."For so long, we've allowed the Democrats to define us, we've allowed the media to define us, and so it's important for us to begin to establish with clarity who we are, what we believe as we begin to go out and take, I think, a brand new message to the American people," he said.