Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele defended ex-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and criticized Republican leaders who have voiced doubts about the prospect of tea party candidates like Alaska’s Joe Miller.
Over the weekend, ABC News reported that party leaders had given up on Miller, who, with Palin’s support, bested sitting Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the August primary. Murkowski since launched a write-in bid, which reportedly is gaining support among GOP leaders who see it as their best chance to hold onto the seat after a series of missteps by Miller.
But in an interview on CNN's American Morning today, Steele remained steadfast in his support of the official Republican candidate.
“I'm very happy with Joe Miller,” he said. “He’s our nominee for the party. There's no effort to throw support anywhere else but behind him. So I don't know who these Republican leaders are, but they need to be focused on winning the election, not trying to gerrymander the outcome.”
Steele also had harsh words for Republican operatives who were anonymously quoted in a Politico article on Sunday saying that a Palin presidential bid could be a disaster for the party. Politico quoted one as saying “there is a determined, focused establishment effort... to find a candidate we can coalesce around who can beat Sarah Palin.... We believe she could get the nomination, but Barack Obama would crush her."
The RNC chair lashed out at Palin’s critics, telling them to “shut up” and start making phone calls.
“These Republican leaders who don't put their names in print but make comments in shadows need to shut up. We're focused on winning elections tomorrow night,” Steele said. “Get out here, get out to this building at the RNC, help us make phone calls, help us dial into districts so we can turn out our vote. That's what folks should be doing not focusing on Sarah Palin. She's focused on winning elections and seats tomorrow night.”
Palin took to the airwaves herself on Sunday to denounce the Politico piece as "part of this yellow journalism world" in an interview with Fox News.
"I don't think that the paper that just printed this article -- it's not worth even wrapping my King Salmon in," she said. "Politico, Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei -- they're jokes. This is a joke to have unnamed sources tearing somebody apart limb by limb."