Moments after being elected chairman two years ago, Michael Steele was already basking in the media spotlight. He approached the lectern in a briefing room with swager and spoke of how he welcomed the chance to “spar” with President Obama. “How do you like me now?” he goaded.
But after a rocky two years in which Steele was constantly the center of attention with a steady stream of high-profile gaffes while the RNC fell deeper into debt, committee members were clearly looking for something different. They wanted a more nuts and bolts manager type who could raise money and avoid public controversy.
If his opening press conference is any indication, Reince Priebus promises to be a much more low-key chairman than his predecessor.
Priebus spoke quickly, emphasizing “humilty,” “unity,” and “hard work.” He said that the RNC finds itself $20 million in debt, and that it will have to raise $400 million to compete with Democrats and President Obama in 2012.
Asked if he was the national voice of the Republican party, he demurred, citing Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell as leaders.
After taking a few questions in a makeshift briefing area in the corner of a hallway, Priebus ran back into the meeting room, where RNC members were voting on the co-chair.
“I’ve gotta go in and run this meeting,” he said.
If RNC members get their wish, we won’t be hearing from Priebus much over the next two years.
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