Steele to ‘Tea Partiers’ — ‘We’re Walking This Walk with Them’

By Lindsey Ellerson

Nov 5, 2009 3:53pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With a fresh round of anti-government protests in Washington today, the challenge for Republicans will be to channel that energy into support for GOP candidates, among activists who aren’t necessarily enamored with any political party, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said today.

On’s “Top Line,” Steele said the RNC is actively debating ways to emphasize to conservative activists that “we still are and remain the conservative party of this country.” “The challenge now as you see the emergence of the 9/12 movement, the tea parties and so forth, that we help them appreciate that we’re with them, we’re walking this walk with them,” Steele told us. “We’re making the same arguments they’re making about government intrusion into health care and the economy, stripping away our freedoms. And it is a very difficult walk because there are a lot of things to be ticked off about regardless of where you are, if you’re Republican or an independent conservative.” Steele’s comments come just days after a split inside the Republican Party may have cost the GOP a House seat in upstate New York. The party splintered in that race, with the Conservative Party nominee forcing the moderate Republican nominee out — and ultimately helping to give a historically Republican seat to a Democrat. “My job now is to make sure, particularly coming off the heels of Tuesday night, for people to appreciate [that],” Steele said. “Now you saw how that combination of conservatism and Republicanism, when brought together, can be very powerful to create wins. And I think you can also see though when we screw it up and we get it wrong — as we did in New York-23 — it can lead to a loss. And so working together is in our collective best interest here, not being divided [as] a lot on the left and certainly in the media wants us to be.” Steele also issued something of a warning to Republicans who run in 2010 after supporting President Obama on key issues: “We’ll come after you,” he said. Read more from that part of the interview HERE. You can watch the full interview with Chairman Michael Steele HERE. We also chatted with Politico’s Jonathan Martin about the battle inside the Republican Party, plus the warning signs for Democrats in this week’s election results: “There’s going to be about 25, 30 freshman [and] sophomore Democrats who just aren’t going to want to follow President Obama, and who are going to want to try and carve out their own paths. And they’re seeing those results from [Tuesday] and they’re pretty damn scared,” Martin said. Click HERE to see the discussion with Jonathan Martin.

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