On Eve of Vote, G.O.P. Bigs Meet In Private

By Teddy Davis

Jan 29, 2009 9:24pm

ABC News’ David Chalian and Teddy Davis Report:

As the Republican Party prepares to select its next chairman on Friday, the five GOPers angling to head the party courted the 168 members of the Republican National Committee (R.N.C.) behind closed doors in Washington, D.C., on Thursday evening at a closed press forum.

An RNC member who attended the event communicated with ABC News on the condition of anonymity and provides the following details:

Keith Butler, an RNC member from Michigan, openly challenged South Carolina Republican Party chairman Katon Dawson on his recent resignation from a "whites-only" country club.

Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, one of two African-Americans running to head the GOP, addressed his previous service on the board of the Republican Leadership Council, an organization headed by former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman which aims to make the GOP more acceptable to supporters of abortion rights. Steele offered a passionate defense of his "pro-life" views and said that he was not apologizing for trying to reach out and broaden the party.

Dawson’s whip operation is going hard at Mike Duncan, believing that the current chairman of the RNC who is seeking an additional two-year term is Dawson’s most intense competitor.

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