Washington -- RNC Chairman Michael Steele saved his toughest words for after Monday's debate, which was fairly tame, with very little interaction between the candidates and no real fireworks.
However, speaking with reporters following the RNC Chairman debate, Steele called the candidacy of former Steele insider and Wisconsin committee-man Reince Priebus "disappointing," adding, "You think folks will be there with you when go to the firefight, that's fine, it's politics."
Priebus was the RNC general counsel under Steele and considered a loyalist but, instead of throwing his support behind Steele for re-election, announced his candidacy for the post.
When asked about Gentry Collin's recent decision to drop out of the race Steele quipped, "I have not spoken to Gentry Collins since the day he sat in front of me and told me he was leaving the RNC to be with his kids."
Collins was the RNC Political Director under Steele but stepped down and wrote a scathing resignation letter bemoaning the RNC's direction and fundraising under Chairman Steele. Collins then mounted a brief run of his own for the chairmanship.
When asked if he feels under-appreciated by the party Steele laughed but wouldn't elaborate, "I have my own personal views which I'll share later, at some point, but I don't want to get into that right now."
Steele was also asked to qualify what many perceived as a gaffe on his part when during the debate he, along with all the candidates, was asked to name his favorite book. Steele said War and Peace and then went on to blurt out a quote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." However, that quote is actually from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
"I was just having fun," said Steele. "Please... the quote was not part of the... it just came into my head. It was just free association that's all.
Monday's debate was hosted by Americans for Tax Reform, the Daily Caller website and the Susan B. Anthony List. Aside from Steele and Priebus, the other candidates in the race are Michigan GOP committeeman Saul Anuzis, former RNC co-chair and ambassador to Luxembourg Ann Wagner of Missouri and Maria Cino, a former Bush administration official who helped organize the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.