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RNC’s Steele Promotes Party’s Turnaround in Popularity

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Sunday that his barometer for a successful midterm election Tuesday will be a majority-securing 39 seats in the House, but that even 37 seats would prove the turnaround of the GOP’s fortunes.

‘Anything we do that evening is going to be a great success given where we started this journey a year and a half ago,’ he said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘I appreciate all the numbers, 50, 60, 70 ‘ my number’s 39. Let’s get to 39, because then you can begin to put in place the governing structure that you’re going to need for your majority leadership in 2011.’

He added that ‘the party has made steady gains back to engaging with the American people,’ citing a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Sunday showing 44 percent of respondents reporting a favorable opinion of the Republican Party and 43 percent with an unfavorable opinion. ‘A year ago, we were in the low 20s,’ he said.

Steele has committed a series of gaffes since becoming chairman early last year. He has not revealed whether he intends to pursue a second term, and it’s uncertain whether Republican lawmakers would want him to. On Sunday, Steele would only say that he is focused on the election at hand.

‘I’ve enjoyed my two years so far as chairman of the Republican National Committee. … We’re going to evaluate [pursuing a second term] once we get past this Tuesday,’ he said.

At the same time, he indicated longer-term thinking, saying, ‘The status quo, the establishment in Washington, they’ll get used to me.’

Steele said the party needs to be smart about the leadership it installs in the 112th Congress. ‘We do need to be very, very smart about what the American people are saying they want us to address in terms of the economy, jobs creation and the like.’

He added that Republicans ‘cannot just go and do the same old, same old,’ or they risk splitting the party.

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