Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, has come under fire from pro-lifers for his association with the Republican Leadership Council (RLC). The RLC is a group of Kathleen Parker Republicans like Christine Todd Whitman who believe the GOP’s problems, though some members (such as John Danforth) actually do have pro-life records. Patterned after the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, the RLC describes its mission as follows:
Inspired by a drive to get back to the fundamentals of the Republican Party, Senator John Danforth, Lt. Governor Michael Steele, and Governor Christine Todd Whitman created the political organization the Republican Leadership Council, which advocates for the historic Republican principles of liberty, individual responsibility, and personal freedom.
RLC-PAC’s vision is a Republican Party that is unified by the basic tenets of fiscal responsibility and personal freedom, but that allows for diverse opinions on social issues by its members…We believe, as you can see through our diverse National Board, that people who believe in the core Republican values can find common ground on social issues.
But Steele ran for lieutenant governor in 2002 and for the Senate in 2006 as a strong pro-lifer who supports overturning in the long term and politically achievable abortion restrictions in the short term while opposing taxpayer-funded embryonic stem-cell research. Steele, a devout Catholic, also opposes capital punishment. The National Right to Life Committee, a Republican National Committee member who has known Steele for twenty years, and David Brody are defending Steele on abortion. Says Brody:
Look, here’s the reality. Steele’s critics have a huge task ahead of them if they’re going to make the case that the guy is not pro-life enough. He’s got the solid track record on the life issue. It’s hard to argue against it.
If anything, the ties to the RLC could be seen as a plus in his corner. After all, the Republican Party will not win presidential contests if their candidate is seen as an ideologue. The challenges for the incoming chairman will be numerous including how to brand the GOP a certain way without sacrificing conservative principles.
I don’t know about the second paragraph arguing the RLC ties are a plus, but the first paragraph strikes me as right.
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