Steele's Message to GOP Incumbents Who Fell to Tea Party Candidates

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 20, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: It seems that desperate Democrats are pulling out all the stops to make sure the Republican momentum slows down ahead of the midterm elections. According to a New York Times report, the Obama administration is planning a new offensive targeting the GOP and the Tea Party movement.

And the article said, quote, "President Obama's political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists."

Now the White House denied that a national ad campaign was being planned, saying, quote, "There's been no discussion of such a thing at the White House." But since their John Boehner attack strategy didn't work, well, they have to try something to turn the tide in their favor.

Joining me now with reaction is the chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele. He is out on his "Want a Job? Fire Nancy Pelosi" bus tour at which I guess leads to you Florida tonight?

MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Yes, indeed. Sean, it's been an incredible day here in Florida. We started out in Tampa Bay. We went to The Villages, a place that's an incredible --

HANNITY: I want to retire there.

STEELE: -- senior live-in community.

HANNITY: No, no, I'm --

STEELE: Oh my goodness, it is --

HANNITY: I want a golf cart and retire and I want to hang out with the Band of Brothers and they drink beer every Thursday at 2:00. I want to be with them.

STEELE: Oh my God. And look, man, they got the coolest golf carts I've ever seen with the funkiest horns you ever want to hear.


STEELE: But these seniors are fired up, my friend. They are ready, they are rocking. And then we swung from there to our Lady Lakes, Florida, where we spend the conclusion of the evening with 600 fired-up Tea Partiers.

So the moment is coming together now. It's crystallizing. You're seeing the reaction by the administration. They're getting into their little cupboard to prepare, you know, some assault or whatever they're thinking about. But it's not going to stop what is happening out in the country, Sean.

HANNITY: It's interesting. Because it seems that's all the Democrats have. They can't run on the stimulus.


HANNITY: Can't run on the budget, debt, deficits. And, you know, they can't run on health care. So they are attacking.

My question is this, though. When you see what Lisa Murkowski is doing in Alaska, you see what Castle can't endorse Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. You see what's happening -- Charlie Crist running as an independent in your state where you are tonight, in Florida.

And I'm thinking why are Republicans sore losers now hurting the chances of other candidates? And what can you do about it as chairman?

STEELE: Well, Sean, look. I understand what the agony of defeat feels like. And, you know, I tell you, growing up as a Roman Catholic conservative, black Republican in D.C., I know about that. That's painful. And you hate losing.

But the reality ever remains, you know, the party is fixed on winning. Those candidates, whether you're talking Joe Miller, Christine O'Donnell, and the host of candidates who are out there in competitive races, they're focused on winning. And their message is resonating with the people.

What I say to all those who have lost primaries over the last few weeks and months, let's come together now. Let's focus on the fact that this is something greater than your ambition. It is something greater than the seat that you currently hold.

This is about the direction of the future of our country. There's a reason why Democrats aren't talking about health care, are running away from the president, are claiming -- you know, trying to reclaim the Bush days as the boogie man.

The reality of it is, the last 18 months, Democrats who have led, by the way, in the Congress since 2006, have taken our country in a direction that the American people are soundly rejecting.

And come November it's coming home and it's coming home in a big way. In a wave that is going to be people power, not government control, not government decisions on the lives and the businesses of our country.

HANNITY: Well, it's interesting to me because they keep shifting their strategies. First it was -- this election was going to be about another referendum on George Bush. Then it was class warfare that the president tried. Then it was attack John Boehner.

And now the latest strategy, if you believe The New York Times, is now they want to say that the Republican Party is wholly owned by the Tea Party Movement. And you just told me you're meeting with Tea party organizers.

So it tells me that -- you know, what do you think of their strategy and what's your reaction? What's your response?

STEELE: Well, first off, the response is, it's stupid. I mean why -- this is the administration that was coming in to bring us all together? This was kumbaya time, right? Where we were all going to get along?


STEELE: And yet, every strategy that they put out here is, you know, attacking Leader Boehner. going after individual Republicans in the Senate and the House leadership. But most especially, going after Americans, citizens, average moms and dads, Joes and Janes out there, who stood up to say enough is enough.

We don't want your Obamacare. We don't want your control of our car industries and our insurance companies and our banks. Leave us alone. Let us cut our own path.

For the past year, Sean, I've been working with a lot of Tea party activists, just everyday folks out there who have the same interests that Republicans and conservatives around the country have. And that is to change the game, to move us in a new direction that's focused on empowerment, ownership, opportunity. And it's going to be a real-life jolt to the administration in November when they look up and see a different class of people coming to Washington.

HANNITY: We had Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy on the program and it's a question that I've been asking you about for months. There has been talk about a strategy, to put together commitments to America.


HANNITY: OK. They confirmed that they're going to do that. The Hill is reporting today they're going to put it together but it's not going to be something that candidates is going to have to sign on to or that they would pledge to do.

Have you heard anything about that? Because I think that might be a mistake. What's wrong with putting your name on a piece of paper?

STEELE: Well, Sean, you know, I don't know the particulars of it. I got a phone call from Kevin McCarthy today. We're going to be talking probably tomorrow to get a briefing for the Republican National Committee on what the strategy is.

But I'm excited about it. Because look, they're taking a different and innovative approach. They are also looking at this legislatively. This is what they're planning to commit in terms of the policies and the legislation that are going to help change the direction of the country.

So I'm waiting -- I'm looking forward to see what exactly we're talking about here. I'm excited about it. Because, remember, Sean, go back. Two things have happened that have struck this moment for us.

One, our House members stood strong against stimulus in 2009. And from that was born this -- this grassroots effort. So this is an exciting time and so we're looking forward to see what it turns out to be.

But in the meantime I'm on the bus. I'm traveling the country. We are out here trying to fire Pelosi, baby. That's what this is about.

HANNITY: Where is my hat? I didn't get it. I want one of those hats.

STEELE: Sean, this is your hat. I'm waiting for you to get on the bus with me. Now what you can do is -- you could track us, Sean, at

This is your time, man. Come on out here and join America.

HANNITY: You got to autograph the hat and I want that hat. All right, Michael Steele.

STEELE: You got it.

HANNITY: Thanks for being with us.

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