"At the end of the day, I've raised more money than the Democrats in seven out of 12 months. I carry over the same amount of money as the DNC in 2010," Steele added. "The bottom line is, I hear my donors, I hear our base out there, I hear the leadership. And we're taking steps to make sure that we're even more -- how shall we say it -- fiscally conservative in our spending and certainly making sure the dollars are there when it's time to run our campaigns."
Even before the spending controversy, some Republicans thought Steele was a burden to the party. A poll of Republican insiders by the conservative National Journal last month found that 71 percent of them thought Steele was a liability to the party, while only 20 percent said he was an asset. One GOP operative quoted in the magazine even declared Steele is "an anchor around the neck of the future of the Republican Party."
But the criticism hasn't fazed the RNC chairman. "They've been saying that since the day I got the job," Steele said.
For Republicans, Steele's troubles come at an inopportune time, putting the party on the defensive just as it is gearing up for the mid-term elections.
It's clear that questions about Steele's leadership have become an uncomfortable issue for Republicans.
While most GOP lawmakers are sidestepping the question of whether it's time for Steele to step down, they are crying foul over freewheeling spending at the RNC and demanding a shakeup.
"I'm not in the position of the people who elect Michael Steele to either say he should step down or not. But this kind of thing has got to stop or they won't get any contributions," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said on "Fox News Sunday." "The people that contribute to the committees, both Democrat and Republican, want to know that their money is well spent for the cause, and it needs to be that way."
Others say the RNC needs to show it is accountable for the money it is being given.
"I think Michael Steele has worked very hard. ... The RNC does have some challenges that they need to correct. Not only does the American people request it but the Republicans requested it as well," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is heading up GOP House recruiting efforts. "If we are going to show that -- the American public, that we believe in accountability and bringing it back to Washington, we have to make sure that the RNC has the accountability just the same."
Others are less forgiving. Former Bush adviser Karl Rove criticized RNC's spending and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council have called for Republican supporters to stop giving money to the RNC.
"What appears to be excessive spending at a time of economic hardship for most of the country, at a time when the Republicans are complaining about the spending in Washington by Democrats, look, if you can't run a party, you certainly can't run a country," Perkins said on MSNB last week.
Political pundits are also unsympathetic.
"I think the problem is hypocrisy," ABC News contributor and former adviser to President George W. Bush Matthew Dowd said on "This Week" Sunday. "It's not the strip club and all that. It's Republicans go out there and talk about fiscal responsibility and they talk about family values, and they have a party leader and party officials who go to a strip club."
Conservative columnist George Will had even harsher words for Steele.