RNC Chair Nominee Flashback: Steele Shifted, Lied about Bush Remarks

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Here’s another thing to keep in mind as Michael Steele makes his bid for Chairman of the RNC, a position that requires frequent contact with the press — not to mention loyalty to the party.

Back in July, Michael Steele granted a briefing to reporters, during which, under the cover of anonymity, he spoke of the burden of running as a Republican this election, famously referring to “R” as “the scarlet letter” and saying that he wouldn’t want Bush campaigning with him. Dana Milbank wrote about Steele’s remarks in his column, dropping a few clues about the identity of the speaker. A fury of speculation followed, and Steele was finally unmasked.

But instead of owning his remarks, Steele furiously backpedalled (saying that Bush, in fact, was his “homeboy”), even lying about the nature of the briefing, accusing Milbank of printing “off the record” remarks. But as an email to Milbank from Steele’s spokesman made clear, the remarks had been “on background” — meaning they could be used anonymously.

Just a foreshadowing of the straight-dealing one can expect from Steele as the spokesman for the Republican Party. (I wonder how he handled that “scarlet letter” comment in his job interview?)