Today's Power Play: Steele Still Alive in Empty Field, But Challengers May Soon Emerge

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While Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele doesn't have a lot of fans these days, he also doesn't yet have an opponent for a second term.

The 162 voting members of the committee are weighing whether to approve another term for Steele when the party holds its winter meeting in January. And the rough headcount offered by several party chairmen to Power Play is that one third are staunchly opposed to Steele, one third are staunchly in favor and one third are undecided.

"For that undecided third, it all basically comes down to what the alternative is," said one state chairman. "It's just like it is with regular voters."

Potential contenders, like former South Carolina state party boss Katon Dawson and Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason, are expected to make their intentions known before Thanksgiving.

National Journal's Hotline reports that former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, who made a failed bid for the national top spot in 2009, will announce his candidacy today.

But so far, there haven't been any names mentioned that would mean certain defeat for Steele.

State chairmen scoffed at the idea of an outsider coming in to take over the party. Names mentioned have been former Sen. Norm Coleman and even Sarah Palin.

"No way. This is a group dominated by state chairmen, and it will be a state chairman who wins this election if it is going to be anybody [other than Michael Steele]," said the head of one large state party. Of course, it's not guaranteed that Steele will run again.

Power Play is told that there is an intense lobbying effort among senior GOPers to get Steele to "declare victory and move on." FOX News has learned that even Steele insiders like Wisconsin Republican Party chairman and RNC legal counsel Reince Priebus are part of the discussion.

The concern among Steele's friends and some of his remaining staff at the RNC is that like in any other election, undecided voters will tend to vote against the incumbent given a reasonable choice.

Plus, the opposition is enthusiastic and outspoken.

West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Mike Stuart told Power Play that the RNC "didn't deliver" when it came to state needs and that anemic fundraising meant that Republicans missed out on a number of close legislative races in his state.

Stuart said that if Steele were reelected there would be more years of bad fundraising and perhaps a permanent reduction in status for the RNC.

"We could see groups like Crossroads become not just temporary work arounds, but sort of institutional rivals to the RNC," Stuart said. "That's not what we want to se because we need a national party that can help us deliver a real ground game."He said his state's delegation wasn't too concerned about the nature of the opposition.

"We won't be voting for Michael Steele as long as there is a reasonable alternative," Stuart said. "Maybe even just a sort-of-reasonable alternative."

Thanks to today's Power Play crew: Kimberly Schwandt, April Girouard, Gretchen Gailey, L.A. Holmes and Whitney Ksiazek

The Day in Quotes

"You know, it wasn't any easier to talk about currency when I had just been elected and my poll numbers were at 65 percent than it is now."

-- President Obama at a G20 press conference in Seoul when asked about changes in his relationships with other world leaders.

"I didn't say anything we haven't said before."

-- Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod in an email to the New York Times walking back his remarks to the Huffington Post that pointed to administration capitulation on extending the current tax rates and caused an outcry on the left.

"I told people in the White House I had spent more time listening to people in the opposition party than they had done as a whole group."

-- Erksine Bowles, Democratic co-chairman of President Obama's debt commission, to the Wall Street Journal.

"It could have been because of my policies. Maybe they didn't like my religion. I don't know. I'm sure there are some other reasons, that's what happens when you are the president. It can either bother you or not bother you."

-- Former President George W. Bush when asked by Bill O'Reilly why some people hated him.

"I didn't put everything in the book. Nobody reads a doorstop."

-- Former President George W. Bush at a closed-door session with alumni of his administrations as quoted by a friend of Power Play.

"I don't think there's been a caucus that has had both Senate and House jointly meeting, and I'd also like it to involve the grass roots, in some way, the Tea Party groups so we get some kind of input from folks all around the country."

-- Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) in a Daily Caller interview calling for a bicameral Republican caucus.

"There's not one Republican senator who would have been elected without Tea Party support."

-- Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) to Reuters.

"I was thinking this would be such a cool idea, because I play [former chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore] Ron Klain in 'Recount,' which is like the bastion of good Democrats, counting the votes, and then to play [Jack] Abramoff was a nice balance, a nice scale."

-- Actor Kevin Spacey to Politico on his portrayal of disgraced Republican lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff.

"In January of 2009, many around Washington and in the national media spread the idea that regaining the majority was impossible."

-- Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) in his letter to the House GOP caucus requesting another term as head of the National Republican Campaign Committee."The human element seemed invisible to the White House."

-- Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) in his book "Leadership and Crisis," due out Monday, ripping the Obama response to the Gulf oil leak as politically motivated and self-serving.

"This is not a campaign manifesto, this is not a platform. This is my contribution to help get our country to get back on track."-- Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) to Politico explaining that his book does not foreshadow a presidential run.

Obama's Day - Japanese Doldrums

After a rough two days at the G20 meeting in Seoul, President Obama has made it to the final leg of his 10-day, four-nation Asian tour: the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Yokohama, Japan.

Japan's economy remains in the dumps and will provide the president with an unhappy reminder of how long-term economic stagnation and credit problems can cause permanent damage to a large economy.

While there to discuss a series of trade agreements with Pacific Rim nations, Obama has to deal with the thorny relationship between the U.S. and Japan. Prime Minister Naoto Kan is in political trouble. His predecessor Yukio Hatoyama resigned after less than a year because of campaign donation scandals and his decision not to force the closure of the U.S. military base on Okinawa.

After Hatoyama stepped down in June, party bosses put forward Kan, his finance minister, but the general sense seems to be that the Democratic Party of Japan, founded in 1998 as an opposition coalition to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that ruled for 54 years.

Kan needs trade deals to show Japan's viability as China and Korea rack up export dollars and he needs to show that he will not be a handmaiden to the U.S. Expect his one-on-one meeting with Obama to produce some aftershocks.

Contested Results Roundup

It looks like it's not going to be Miller Time in Alaska after all.

The percentage of write-in votes that are both for Sen. Lisa Murkowski and legible has been above 90 percent, meaning that Miller will be unlikely to close the 11,000-plus vote gap. His team is still challenging each misspelling, but it seems like the House of Murkowski has won this battle in the feud with the House of Palin.

Meanwhile, the final seven undecided House races look like they are shaping up as a 4-3 split for the GOP, which would bring the party's final number of gains to 64.

2012 Watch - Palin Tour Includes Iowa, South Carolina

Sarah Palin's 16-city book tour for her newest title "America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag" will take the former governor to Iowa twice (Des Moines on Nov 27, Spirit Lake on Dec. 2) and to Columbia, S.C. on Dec. 3.

This weekend will also see the debut of the Palin reality mini-series "Sarah Palin's Alaska" on the Discovery Channel.

After her weeks of campaign blitzing before midterms, it doesn't look like the former governor is pulling back.

Power Play observes that Palin seemed to enjoy being back in the national political mix in a big way and on her own terms. It may have been enough to get her thinking about what a presidential campaign would be like.

The received wisdom in Washington is that Palin is more likely to keep her outsider status and continue growing her brand than get into the hurly-burly of a presidential run. But a better way to look at it might be that when the woman says she hasn't made up her mind, that's exactly what she means.

And, the fact that her potential candidacy freaks out so many Republicans may be a big part of why the possibility is still attractive to her.