"We spent money early on the ground game ... before any mone was spent on TV ads and independent expenditures," Steele said. "I spent our money early so we could win an election."
Steele's goal, he said, has been to diffuse power away from Washington and back to state parties. The party sent millions of dollars to state affiliates, including late investments in states like Ohio and New Hampshire, where Republicans picked up more than half a dozen House seats, combined. Some state party chairmen publicly complained that the money was slow in coming, but most states got their checks in October.
Not coincidentally, sending money and handing power to state parties is something Steele can use as a major accomplishment if he decides to seek a second two-year term. A six-week bus tour also gave Steele the chance to see many of the committee's 168 voting members in their home states.
Steele insisted he has not made up his mind as to whether to seek another term, despite reports that he has begun informing committee members he will run again. Steele is expected to run alongside Indiana national committeewoman Dee Dee Benkie, who will seek the co-chairman's position, and California Party chairman Ron Nehring, who would run for treasurer.
"Whether I run or not, I'm going to be judged by what I've done," Steele said. He said he would evaluate what more he could do for the RNC if he seeks a second term, and whether he has "a vision of where the party should be."
"I tend to be a long-ball thinker," Steele said. "My leadership style is different. I'm not cut out of the same mold as others."
The unofficial kickoff of the RNC race is expected to come at a gathering of Republican governors later this month in San Diego. There, potential RNC candidates are expected to announce their bids.