Michael Steele Seeks to 'Turn the Page' for Republican Party

But GOP still beset by infighting and lacks big, new ideas.

ByABC News
May 19, 2009, 4:43 PM

May 19, 2009— -- Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is attempting to "turn the page" on a troubled period for both his party and his own leadership.

But it's not yet clear that he or his party has reached the next chapter.

Steele's speech today to state GOP chairmen -- his first since taking over leadership of the national party in January -- marks an attempt to end a period of extended infighting in the Republican Party that has stalled rebuilding efforts and complicated his leadership.

"The era of Republican navel-gazing? Done," Steele declared. "We have turned the corner on regret, recrimination, self-pity and self-doubt. Now is the hour to focus all of our energies on winning the future."

Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland who lost in the state's 2006 general election for U.S. Senate, went on to claim that the GOP comeback has already begun, and said the party would again stand for "new ideas."

Yet he can offer only scant evidence to support such claims. Steele himself proposed few new ideas in his speech, which dwelled more on how the party would frame its opposition to President Obama than on how Republicans can better present themselves to voters.

"We are going to take the president head-on, the honeymoon is over," Steele said. "The two-party system is making a comeback, and that comeback begins today."

Steele offered a scathing critique of Obama administration policies on everything from government intervention in the banking and car industries to what Steele calls a health care plan that allows "federal government bureaucrats control of our health care system."

He labeled the first several months of the Obama administration "The Reign of Error." He poked fun at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as someone who "nobody likes," while saying "nobody knows" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, "nobody believes" Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and "nobody understands" House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass.