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Hannity

Steele Addresses Controversy Surrounding RNC Chairmanship on 'Hannity'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 9, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight we are coming to you live from the Southern Republican Leadership conference. We are in New Orleans tonight.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HANNITY: And joining me now with reaction to all of this is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, the one and only, Michael Steele. A warm welcome, Michael Steele.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Who dat! Who dat!

HANNITY: OK. I got you. Mike, well, first of all, your reaction to Justice Stevens. Let's start there.

STEELE: I think the justice stepping down gives the president an opportunity to show that he's serious about the Supreme Court. And certainly would give us an opportunity to have a national debate about the direction of this court. Do we have an activist left leaning court or do we have a court that's focused on governing — not governing, but leading the people through legislation.

HANNITY: Alright, but the bottom line is Barack Obama showed no signs except to be the rigid ideologue that he really is. So the question is, why would America expect anything other than an extreme justice? And would you want the Republicans, if he appoints a radical left winger, to oppose —

STEELE: Absolutely. We certainly will be engaged very closely, very effectively in this debate. This is an opportunity to change the direction of the court. I know a lot of folks want to play this of like, well, you're going to replace a liberal with a liberal.

That's not the idea here. This is the difference between a court that is going to focus on the rule of law and working that way or an activist court that's going to try to legislate from the bench.

And the RNC will be prepared to fight any effort to put a left leaning, activist judge on this court.

HANNITY: Alright, I think the crowd is probably going to be happy about that.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HANNITY: Let me ask you. Bart Stupak — by the way, and I want to — I'm not going to pat myself on the back. I said from the beginning he would cave. I knew he'd give in just like Ben Nelson was bought off.

Do you think he's afraid to run in this re-election?

STEELE: He's absolutely afraid to run his re-election because of these folks right here.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

STEELE: The American people have been sending a signal for some time now: You better listen to us or you will pay the price at the ballot box.

HANNITY: Right.

STEELE: He saw that coming and he got out of town as fast as he could.

HANNITY: What do you —

STEELE: So long Stupack, so long Stupak.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HANNITY: You know, everywhere we've been and we've watched this with the Tea Party movement around the country. Massive crowds, massive intensity. Does that translate what happened in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey?

STEELE: Absolutely it does.

HANNITY: Does this intensity hold through November?

STEELE: This intensity had better hold through November, you know.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

STEELE: We have an unprecedented opportunity, Sean, to take this country back. You have laid out very clearly in your book the way — the path, the way to do that. How you can get principled conservative leadership back in Washington to change the course of this nation and it stars with these folks right here.

HANNITY: Let me —

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HANNITY: You walked out here tonight and you got a massive reception from the crowd here in New Orleans. You had a strong defense from Newt Gingrich. Governor Palin defended you. Some have attacked you. Some have gone after you.

What is your reaction to that and response to those that have been —

STEELE: Well, my reaction is, look, you know, I'm trying to do the best I can as national chairman. I've made mistakes —

HANNITY: You have three victories under your belt.

STEELE: I've got three victories under my belt, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia. Right?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

STEELE: Look, this is the bottom line. I stay focused very much on winning in November. I'm going to work very hard to make sure more Republicans, more good conservatives get into the Senate, and into Congress, into the governorships and into the state legislatures this November.

This is the battle for the direction and the freedoms of this country and I think we should be engaged in them.

HANNITY: One of the things I'm always afraid of is this sort of circular firing squad that conservatives have against each other. And it seems to me, you know, the Democratic Party and the president now are at a record low.

There was a Fox News poll that came out earlier today. Newt Gingrich said that Barack Obama is the most radical president we've ever seen in American history. Liz Cheney said that Barack Obama has put America on a path to decline.

Rush Limbaugh, he is inflicting untold damage on this country. Governor Palin, you know, it's like a kid, you punch me and I won't retaliate, which was a line that —

STEELE: Exactly. Well, you know, I think from Gingrich to Palin they have laid out the indictment against this administration. The direction in which it's taken this country on foreign policy and domestic policy.

The battle we have right now and when I say to every God-fearing conservative, Republican out there and independent around this country, this is a chance for us to move this country in a new direction.

It's not about Michael Steele, it's not about any one individual, it's about a nation that stood on principle of liberties.

HANNITY: Alright, but let me ask you this then. Because, you know, we saw stories this week where people were saying, all right, health care, where do I sign up for my free Obama health care?

STEELE: Right.

HANNITY: We saw stories this week, 50 percent of American households no longer pay taxes.

STEELE: Yes.

HANNITY: What does that mean for America if you have a voting electorate that is not paying any taxes?

STEELE: How do you sustain yourselves going into the future if you're giving more government welfare out there? You're encouraging more and more people to be dependent on government instead of self-reliance, self- fulfilling in terms of the direction they want to go, and take their families and their communities?

HANNITY: Alright.

STEELE: I mean this is not about government takeover and control. This is about empowering people. And that's what the Tea Parties have been about.

HANNITY: Alright.

STEELE: The whole past year has been about.

HANNITY: Well, it's interesting because 40 percent of the Tea Party movement, — you know is independent and Democrats.

STEELE: Yes.

HANNITY: Which I think is pretty interesting here. What do you think — as you're heading into the election there's been a lot of talk, I called for this in my book, Newt talked about now recently. Is it time — maybe late up summer and early September — for a Contract with America or something like that?

STEELE: I think it's time for us to talk about and clearly define for this nation those principles. Those ideals and those opportunities that this country affords every citizen —, black, white or otherwise.

This is our moment. This is the people's moment. We need to seize it.

HANNITY: All right. Last question.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HANNITY: There's a little bit of controversy with you. And I want to give you an opportunity to clear it up. When you said it's a little tougher for me and Barack Obama.

STEELE: Alright.

HANNITY: It got a lot of play. What did you mean by that and do you stand by that remark?

STEELE: No, what I basically mean is look, in this job it is unique to have both of us at this point in our American history. And a lot of people are coming to grips with a whole new reality now with Obama on the left and Steele on the right. And this is just — this is a testament to the greatness of this nation. That's really what it's all about.

We've got a lot more to do and a lot more to get done and it starts this November, folks. Don't forget, this November, let's get it done.

HANNITY: Alright.

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