ABC News’ David Chalian reports:
Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele offered a mea culpa to the party faithful gathered at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this weekend.
“There are those distractions … and, lord knows, I’ve provided a few,” Steele said to some chuckles.
The RNC chairman was the final speaker of the three-day conference and he used the opportunity to take responsibility for mistakes made during his tenure at the helm of the party.
“I’m the first here to admit that I’ve made mistakes and it’s been important for me to take that responsibility, shoulder that burden, make the necessary changes, and move on,” he said to applause from the half-filled hotel ballroom.
“The one mistake we cannot make this November is to lose,” he added.
Steele’s comments come on the heels of a couple of weeks of controversy that have engulfed his chairmanship, mostly centered on the spending habits at the RNC, including a recent excursion to a bondage-themed nightclub in West Hollywood, Calif., that was submitted and approved for reimbursement by the committee.
In recent days there have been a few scattered calls by Republicans for Steele to resign his post, but most of the party leadership continues to back him.
According to several Republican aides and party strategists, the last thing they want right now is a distracting effort to remove Steele. It would take two-thirds of the 168 members of the RNC to vote him out of his office. And the optics of the Republican Party removing its first African American chairman is also something nobody in the party leadership appears eager to put on display.
California Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring circulated a letter in advance of Steele’s appearance showing the support from 31 of the 50 state party chairs who are firmly in Steele’s corner.