Republicans Denounce Steele’s Afghan Comments

Posted July 4, 2010 at 10:26am

Three Republican Senators went to pains Sunday to distance themselves from recent comments made by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele about the war in Afghanistan.

“I think those statements are wildly inaccurate, and there’s no excuse for them,” Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) said of Steele’s comment that the war was of President Barack Obama’s choosing and his insinuation that the conflict could not be won. Steele was caught on tape Thursday during a fundraiser in Connecticut.

McCain, who appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” stopped short of calling for Steele’s resignation. He did say the chairman, whose tenure at the RNC has been marked by several high-profile gaffes, should take some time to assess whether he can continue to lead the party.

Sen. Jim DeMint, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” called Steele’s comments “unacceptable” and “careless.”

“I need to see him focused on this November’s election,” the South Carolina Republican said. “Whether or not he resigns is up to other people than me.”

Another South Carolina Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham, came out strongly against Steele’s comment on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“It was an uninformed, unnecessary, unwise, untimely comment. If you were a student of history, you would know that America cannot afford to allow Afghanistan go back into Taliban control,” Graham said.

Graham said he will leave it up to the RNC and Steele to decide whether to keep him at the helm. “It’s up to him to see if he can lead the Republican Party after this comment,” he said.

But Graham also praised him for retracting his statement. “The good news is Michael Steele is backtracking so fast he’s going to be in Kabul fighting here pretty soon,” he said. “I want to let my Republican Party know that we need to stand behind President Obama, criticize what we must, but this is America’s war and we can win this war. We must win this war. And I’m glad to see Michael Steele is retracting his statement.”