GOP chairman doesn’t expect to get majority

Steele questions readiness to lead House

WASHINGTON – GOP Chairman Michael Steele thinks Republicans have “screwed up” for the most part in the years since Ronald Reagan was president. And, he adds in an interview on the heels of his new book’s release, Republicans won’t win back the House in fall elections and might not be ready to lead even if they do.

That forecast of failure sparked a pushback Tuesday at the GOP’s own National Republican Congressional Committee.

Winning back the House would be difficult for Republicans, who are in a 256-178 minority with one vacancy. Steele’s book, “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda,” released Monday, offers his blueprint for the party’s resurgence. Several of the steps he proposes play off sticking to GOP principles.

Asked Monday by talk-show host Sean Hannity if Republicans can regain the House in November, Steele said, “Not this year.” He added: “I don’t know yet, because I don’t know all the candidates yet. We still have some vacancies that need to get filled, but then the question we need to ask ourselves is, if we do that, are we ready?”

In answer to his own question, Steele said: “I don’t know. And that’s what I’m assessing and evaluating right now.”

NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said in response to Steele’s comments that recapturing the majority remains a GOP goal.

“Independent political analysts and even liberal columnists have stated that Republicans have a very real shot at taking back the majority in 2010,” he said in a statement. “Make no mistake about it, we are playing to win.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pointed to Steele’s comments as further evidence of a civil war within the GOP and party disarray.

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