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