I traveled to Salisbury, Maryland - a two and a half hour drive from Washington DC - to meet up with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele who was riding his "Fire Pelosi" bus. Outside the Republican headquarters at a shopping center in Salisbury - about 100 people cheered the big red bus as it pulled up to the strip mall storefront covered with signs of what seemed like every Republican candidate running in Maryland. The cheers of "Fire Pelosi!!" were echoed by the Chairman inside at a sit-down interview.
"As of last week, the RNC has contacted voters by phone and or knocking - 35 million people. 35 million people are now revved up and ready to go to the polls."I asked about the Democrats' talk about a superior ground game come election day - with unions and other liberal groups moving voters to the polls. And that prompts a quick response from Steele, "Talk is cheap. Meet me on the playground on Tuesday. See you at the polls on Tuesday and then tell me how good your ground game is. Watch the turnout. Watch what we'll do. And then we'll talk."
Steele didn't talk numbers but said after visiting more than 40 states, 130 cities and more than 15 thousand miles, he's convinced polls across the country are underestimating Republican turnout. He predicts surprise Republican pick-ups in blue states in the northeast and far west. "When you peel it back, you look and you see there's an energy there that just courses through the campaigns. It's not something that folks are going around and tabulating, but it's there."
On the job he's holding now: "I love it," Steele says. "It's been fun, despite all the nitpicking and the backbiting and the craziness at the RNC."
Is Steele looking for vindication Tuesday? "Oh no. This is a team sport, as much as you have folks on the team who don't want to play with you. I get that. What really matter is that, for the party, we reposition ourselves. And the vindication will be a Republican Congress. The vindication will be Republican governors and state legislatures and the opportunity to lead again and to do better than we did before."
And with that - Steele was back on the big red "Fire Pelosi" bus bound for city number 130-something... Rolling on to Tuesday.