GOP Chair's Abortion Comments May Prove Costly
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is in hot water again. Last month, he picked a fight with powerful radio host, Rush Limbaugh. Now, he's angered an even more formidable force in his party, the pro-life movement.
Steele is under fire for comments that he made in an interview with GQ magazine. It was posted on the publication's Web site last night.
NPR's Julie Rovner joins us in the studio. And Julie, what exactly did Michael Steele say?
JULIE ROVNER: Well, he was asked about abortion and he said that he thought it should be an individual decision. I think the surprised interviewer asked him to confirm it, and he responded, yes, absolutely.
SIEGEL: And reaction from the pro-life community?
ROVNER: Well, they are not happy, to say the least. Most of the responses have been kind of terse, but the Family Research Council said that they would not put out anything further publicly until he had responded to them in private, but there were some comments about, you know, that further support for the RNC being in question.
SIEGEL: Will this cost, do you think, Michael - could it cost him his job at the RNC? We don't know what will happen, but is he in trouble?
ROVNER: Well, I think it's fair to say that he is in trouble if this doesn't end, combined with what went on in the fight with Rush Limbaugh. Certainly, what we're really hearing is that the problems are even bigger going on in the back room of the RNC. There's not very much of a staff. He fired most of the staff. He doesn't have any fundraising staff. He just named a new chief of staff. There's, I think, more worries about what's going on organizationally with the RNC than what's going on really with these fights, but it doesn't help to pick fights with some of your strongest supporters.
SIEGEL: Thank you, Julie.
ROVNER: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's Julie Rovner, talking about the adventures of Republican National Chair Michael Steele.
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