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Report: Steele Running for RNC, Gingrich Not

2:10 PM, Nov 11, 2008 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Bill Sammon's sources tell him Steele may announce as soon as Thursday, and is courting the endorsement of Newt Gingrich, which if landed, would do much to scare off the incumbent and possible challengers:

The source also contradicted a report in Tuesday's Washington Times that Steele and Gingrich were competing for the RNC post.

"There is no fight," the source said. "This tension between Michael Steele and Newt Gingrich is totally fabricated and, in fact, Gingrich and Steele are working together to create a new strategy for the direction of the GOP."

In a statement issued by the former House speaker, Gingrich said he was not interested in seeking the post of Republican party chairman.

"A number of people have asked me to consider running for Republican National Committee chair. They have been very flattering, and I am very honored by their support," he said.

The Washington Times' report on the "behind-the-scenes battle" between the two is here.

I like the direction this is heading, if correct. Michael Steele is an eminently likable guy who can communicate conservative values and ideas with competence and charm, and has always inspired the base. He comes without the significant political baggage of a Newt chairmanship, but will undoubtedly be bolstered by Newt's ideas, as Gingrich has signaled that he wants to be very involved in the remaking of a party that could use some new ideas.

As for the somewhat fallacious face-off David Brooks drew between traditionalists and reformists, a Steele and Newt alliance could offer both a fresh face and fresh ideas without succumbing to the temptation to fight Democrats by becoming second-rate, imitation liberals. Both are "Hayesian reformitionalists" (see the above link) in their public pronouncements.

Mike Duncan will likely make a bid to stay in place, but there is serious danger in leaving the three most visible members of GOP leadership in place--Duncan at RNC, Boehner in the House, and McConnell in the Senate. If GOP voters and the rest of the country notice that Republican party leadership is subject to fewer consequences than team leaders on "The Apprentice," they will continue to impose their own punishment at the polls.