Gay Republican groups are joining the chorus of conservatives criticizing Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele for recent comments about operations in Afghanistan.
Steele drew fire from many within his own party after he expressed skepticism regarding operations in Afghanistan during a July 1 fundraiser in Connecticut.
“This was a war of Obama’s choosing,” Steele said. “This is not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”
Steele also suggested U.S. efforts in Afghanistan wouldn’t be successful, saying “one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan … because everyone who’s tried over a thousand years of history has failed.”
Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the political group GOProud, said conservatives have “lost all confidence” in Steele and called on the RNC chair to resign.
LaSalvia told the Blade his disappointment with Steele is not simply the result of his Afghanistan remarks but his approach to Republican Party leadership.
“I think that if you look at the totality of his tenure at the RNC, there’s been one thing after another,” LaSalvia said. “This election cycle is just too important to go through with somebody at the helm of the RNC who doesn’t have the confidence of conservatives and members of his party.”
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans and an Iraq war veteran, said Steele’s comments were “unwise and untimely.”
“I would say his comments are unfortunate and disappointing,” he added.
Cooper declined to comment on whether Steele should resign from his position as RNC chair, but said “many people are unhappy with comments, so that’s pretty universal.”
In a statement last week issued by the RNC, Steele clarified his statements, saying “there is no question that America must win the war on terror” and “winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task.”
“During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan,” Steele said in a statement. “Now, as president, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy.”
The RNC couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the criticism from GOProud and Log Cabin.