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Steele Will Likely Survive As RNC Head

As we reported yesterday, it's been a tough first few weeks on the job for Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele. The latest dustup involves an interview with GQ in which Steele suggested abortion should be "an individual choice," prompting angry reactions from key Republican figures. (Steele later insisted he is pro-life.)

Hotsheet asked CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris if Steele, the RNC's first black chair, is in danger of losing his job. His answer? Probably not. Here's why, according to Chaggaris:

  • Steele undoubtedly has learned a few lessons over the past couple of weeks - most importantly, that he needs to be much less candid with his opinions. He's not a pundit anymore, he's the chairman of a political party. He's learning that any off-the-cuff remarks will be scrutinized by his masses much more thoroughly than they would be if he was just chatting away on Fox News.
  • The Republican Party has enough distractions right now – why add the horrible PR move of ousting your barrier-breaking chairman to that list? He's only been chairman for weeks and admitting failure at a time when the party is trying to regroup and focus on a message is the last thing it needs. Add to that the fact they would be ousting the first African-American GOP chairman and it's a recipe for another firestorm of criticism.
  • It takes 2/3 of party members to oust a chairman — does a party that already is down on its luck need the negative attention that entire process would garner?
  • A general consensus seems to be forming to allow Steele to stick around (with the caveat that he keeps his mouth closed for the near future) and let him get the party set up in terms of organization, fundraising and message in order to focus on 2010. Keep in mind the GOP chairmanship is for two years; in other words, if Steele doesn't work out, the party can rebuild with someone else in 2011.

One more note: Chris Cillizza over at the Washington Post also today weighed in on "Five Reasons Why Steele Stays." Check it out here.
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