Steele Elected RNC Chair “Because He’s a Black Guy” Says CPAC Communications...

Steele Elected RNC Chair “Because He’s a Black Guy” Says CPAC Communications Director


Members of the Republicans Party continue to make headlines based on their latest mistakes rather than their latest accomplishments during Donald Trump’s time in the White House.

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gathering of conservatives has many concluding that the Trumpification of the modern Republican Party will damage the brand for years to come. The third major test of that will arrive this November on Election Day. Two major political repudiations of the GOP brand have already been seen in Virginia and Alabama.

A year after wrangling over whether or not unrepentant bigot Milo Yiannopoulos would speak at CPAC, questions over what the modern Republican Party stands for are back again. This time, there was a more direct indication of what the answer is.

Standing on stage at the annual Ronald Reagan dinner with cameras rolling, and with CPAC Chairman Matthew Schlapp standing next him, CPAC Communications Director Ian Walters said former RNC Chairman Michael Steele was elected RNC chair “because he’s a black guy.” The comment was made just hours after President Trump was on stage.

Walters later apologized to Steele. But is full comments were more than telling about where part of the party stands.

“We were somewhat lost as a group, we had just elected the first African-American president, and that was a big deal and that was a hill that we got over and it was something that we were all proud of and we weren’t sure what to do, and in a little bit of cynicism what did we do? This is a terrible thing. We elected Mike Steele to be the RNC chair because he’s a black guy, that was the wrong thing to do,” Walters said on stage. 

“If he feels that way I’d like him to come say that to my face. And then I’d like him to look at my record and see what I did. I can’t believe an official of CPAC would go on stage, in front of an audience, and say something like that. I’ve been a strong supporter of CPAC for many years, and I thought they raised them better than that here,” Steele said.

Then there was a double down. CPAC Chairman and MSNBC contributor Matthew Schlapp interviewed Steele a day later. Schlapp said, “those words that tumbled out of [Ian’s] mouth, I believed were unfortunate words,” Schlapp told Steele during a discussion on the SiriusXM program “Steele & Ungar…. don’t always jump to the conclusion that just because people use inarticulate words, that they have it in for you,” Schlapp added.

Schlapp also admonished Steele to “show grace” after Walters’ racist remarks.   

“It’s not ‘unfortunate,'” Steele said to Schlapp. “It is stupid to sit there and say that we elected a black man chairman of the party, and that was a mistake. Do you know how that sounds to the black community?”

Steele appeared again on Morning Joe on February 26 to say that Schlapp had not only “drank the kool-aid” of Trump ideology but had also placed an “IV in his arm.”

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke