McCain, oth­ers blast Steele for war re­mark, but Paul lends sup­port

Austin American-Statesman - - MONDAY BRIEFING - By Richard A. Ser­rano

WASHINGTON — Three top GOP sen­a­tors on Sun­day sharply crit­i­cized the chair­man of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, in­creas­ing the pres­sure on him to step down for his re­cent re­marks that the war in Afghanistan is a lost cause.

Sens. John McCain of Ari­zona, and Jim DeMint and Lind­sey Gra­ham, both of South Carolina, stopped short of call­ing for Michael Steele’s res­ig­na­tion. But col­lec­tively their com­ments on the Sun­day morn­ing TV talk shows sig­nal a uni­fied agree­ment that many in the GOP lead­er­ship no longer sup­port the em­bat­tled chair­man.

But Steele did win sup­port Sun­day from U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jack­son, who con­grat­u­lated him for his re­marks. “He is ab­so­lutely right,” Paul said in a state­ment. “Afghanistan is Obama’s war.”

Steele, speak­ing at a Con­necti­cut fundraiser on Thurs­day, also called the nine-year war in Afghanistan, be­gun un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, one of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s “choos­ing.” He has since sought to clar­ify his re­marks but has not apol­o­gized. In­stead, he has main­tained that his com­ments were jus­ti­fied be­cause Obama is fo­cus­ing more on Afghanistan than the war in Iraq.

“I think those state­ments are wildly in­ac­cu­rate, and there’s no ex­cuse for them,” McCain said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I think that Mr. Steele is go­ing to have to as­sess as to whether he can still lead the Repub­li­can Party, as chair­man of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, and make an ap­pro­pri­ate de­ci­sion.”

Gra­ham, on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and DeMint, on “ Fox News Sun­day,” both em­pha­sized that the bat­tle in Afghanstan is non­par­ti­san, re­fer­ring to it as “Amer­ica’s War.”

Michael Steele said Obama chose the Afghan war.

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