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Palin: Steele is "Doing a Great Job"

Embattled Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele has recently taken flak from Democrats and Republicans alike. But last night, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took time to praise Steele, hailing him as an "independent outsider."

"I support Michael Steele. I am glad he is the leader of the party, administratively," Palin told Fox News conservative commentator Sean Hannity while at a Minnesota rally for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

"Michael Steele is an outsider, the machine is tough to penetrate," she continued. "I think it's good to have an independent outsider trying to create some change in the Republican Party."

The former 2008 vice presidential nominee's comments sharply contrast with some conservatives who have vocalized their disapproval with how Steele is handling the party committee.

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Most recently, former Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican from Pennsylvania and possible 2012 presidential candidate, chided Steele for the "disarray" of his organization. Speaking to Fox Business network on Wednesday, Santorum said, "I think he needs to get back to the RNC, go back to the headquarters, and manage this place."

Palin's comments come as speculation broils that she is trying to distance herself from Steele and the RNC after she pulled out from a series of GOP fundraising events last week. A number of Republican officials and donors have pulled away from the RNC after it came to light that the committee funded a trip to a Los Angeles bondage-themed nightclub for its donors.

But with Palin reassuring her support for Steele, and CNN reporting that an adviser to Palin said she never planned to attend the fundraising events in the first place, her enthusiastic support for the party seems to remain intact.

Palin is expected to speak Friday at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC), a gathering of top Republican officials and potential 2012 presidential nominees.

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