Steele Keeps Door Open For RNC to Abandon Specter In Primary

In an interview today on Morning Joe, Michael Steele seemed to be trying to back off of his prior statements about how Arlen Specter could face a primary challenge for supporting the stimulus bill — but in the process, he only ended up saying that the RNC might not support Specter:

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Pat Buchanan pressed Steele to affirm that he would welcome a primary challenge. “Of course, the Senator’s gonna have to account to the primary voters,” Steele said. “He’s gonna have to go through that gauntlet first and stand before those voters, and address a core question.”

Steele said that the GOP “lost its mind” over the last few years on spending and small government, and that the stimulus was “a core principled vote” on Republican ideas about government and the free market.

Thus, Steele concluded: “So if the primary voters there have some strong voice, and certainly the state party of Pennsylvania does not put in place an incumbent protection, then the RNC will honor that.”

As we’ve previously reported, Steele has gone back and forth on this one, after he first said on the Neil Cavuto show that pro-stimulus Republicans could be denied support. He then swung away from that, telling TPM that the decision is up to the state parties, rather taking a single position on it as the national chairman. And now he’s heading back somewhat to the anti-Specter position, emphasizing on a morning show all the ways Specter betrayed core Republican ideas.