GOP leaders, in a private meeting last month, delivered a blunt and at times heated message to RNC Chairman Michael Steele: quit meddling in policy.
The plea was made during what was supposed to be a routine discussion about polling matters and other priorities in House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office. But the session devolved into a heated discussion about the roles of congressional leadership and Steele, according to multiple people familiar with the meeting.
The congressional leaders were particularly miffed that Steele had in late August unveiled a seniors’ “health care bill of rights” without consulting with them. The statement of health care principles, outlined in a Washington Post op-ed, began with a robust defense of Medicare that puzzled some in a party not known for its attachment to entitlements.
Elected Republicans urged Steele to focus on the governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia and other political matters, such as fundraising, rather than on attempting to establish party policy.
Steele was taken aback by the comments from Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Senate GOP conference Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Senate GOP policy Chairman John Thune of South Dakota and grew defensive during the 10-minute discussion, according to two people in the room.