Wall Street Journal: Steele to Join RNC Candidates Debate

This article originally appeared on WSJ.com on December 29, 2010.

Steele to Join RNC Candidates Debate

By: Patrick O’Connor

Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will square off against the candidates looking to unseat him during a debate next week at the National Press Club in Washington.

Mr. Steele, who ducked an earlier candidates forum, announced his plans late Tuesday night to participate in the debate. He’ll get a chance to go head-to-head with the five other candidates looking to replace him when the RNC meets later in January to select its chairman for the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.

Mr. Steele, who has been criticized for mismanaging the committee, said he hopes the debate will “provide an opportunity for me to engage your questions.” In the release announcing his participation, Mr. Steele urged committee members to maintain “consistency and inclusion.” He also urged members to remain “united.”

Mr. Steele has maintained a unusually low profile in the weeks since the November midterm elections, as critics lined up to call for his ouster even after Republicans netted 63 seats in the House and made big gains in the Senate and state capitals around the country. But he trails Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus in public commitments, and other challengers are right on his heels a few weeks ahead of the mid-January election.

The forum is being sponsored by the Daily Caller website, Americans for Tax Reform and the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List. All six candidates are now expected to attend. The others include former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, former Bush administration official Maria Cino, former RNC political director Gentry Collins and former U.S. Ambassador Ann Wagner.

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