|January 30, 2009|
|Preceded by||Mike Duncan|
|January 15, 2003 – January 17, 2007|
|Born||October 19, 1958
Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland
|Alma Mater||Johns Hopkins University (BA)
Georgetown University Law Center (JD)
|Spouse||Andrea Derritt Steele (m. October 12, 1985)|
Michael Stephen Steele (born October 19, 1958) is an American politician currently serving as the chairman of the Republican National Committee. He is the first African-American to chair the Republican National Committee and the second to chair either major U.S. party's National Committee after Ron Brown, who chaired the Democratic National Committee. Steele was also the first African American to serve in a state-wide office in Maryland, as the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007, and he was the first Republican elected to that office.
From 2003 to 2005, Lt. Gov. Steele and Lt. Gov. Jennette Bradley of Ohio were the highest-ranking elected black Republicans in the United States. Steele held this distinction solo from 2005 to 2007 after Bradley resigned to become Ohio State Treasurer. Steele ran for a Maryland United States Senate seat being vacated by retiring senator Paul Sarbanes, but he lost the 2006 election to Democratic Congressman Ben Cardin. Steele then served as chairman of GOPAC and worked as a partner at the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf. Steele cofounded the "fiscally conservative and socially inclusive" Republican Leadership Council in 1993 but left in 2008.
Steele’s mother was a widowed laundress who, he stated, worked for minimum wage rather than accept public assistance. Steele grew up in a Democratic household, but as a young man he switched to the Republican Party.
After joining the Republican Party, Steele became chairman of the Prince George's County Republican Central Committee. He was a founding member of the centrist fiscally conservative and socially inclusive Republican Leadership Council in 1993 but left in 2008 citing disagreements over endorsing primary candidates. In 1995, the Maryland Republican Party selected him as Maryland State Republican Man of the Year. He worked on several political campaigns, was an Alternate Delegate to the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego and a Delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia that ultimately chose the George W. Bush ticket.
In December 2000, Steele was elected chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, becoming the first African American ever to be elected chairman of any state Republican Party.
In 2005, Steele was named an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership and was awarded the Bethune-DuBois Institute Award for his continuing efforts in the improvements of quality education in Maryland.
- On the war in Iraq: "It is imperative we improve conditions on the ground so we can bring our troops home as quickly as possible and have the Iraqi people take control of their own destiny. At the same time, we should not publicly state a timetable for implementation. I do not support a 'cut and run strategy.' Any politician out there talking about timetables and timelines is playing into the hands of our enemies who have an enormous capacity to wait. It would be a disaster for us to cut and run, as it would destroy our credibility in the region for at least a generation. At the same time, it is the Iraqi’s themselves that will ultimately have to make democracy work in their country. We should stay there only long enough to give the Iraqi people the tools they need to secure the very democracy they voted for three times. After that, it’s up to them."
- Energy policy: "To provide immediate relief for Marylanders, I have called on President Bush and Congress to enact an immediate moratorium on the federal gas tax - more than 18 cents per gallon - and an immediate moratorium on the 24 cents per gallon diesel tax. Moreover, Congress should approve legislation to suspend the tariff on ethanol imports. But those actions are designed to deal with our immediate crisis. Congress must roll up its sleeves and work to solve the underlying problem - our dependence on foreign sources of energy. To do that, I’ve called on Congress to double President Bush’s budget request for biomass and bio-refinery research, and create market and tax incentives for E85 fuels, hybrid technologies and alternative energy sources. Tax credits for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles need to be renewed and expanded. Additionally, we must increase fuel efficiency standards for automobiles – not just this year, but over the next several years."
- The budget deficit: "Congress must also enact pro-growth policies that encourage the economy to expand: like making tax relief permanent and repealing the death tax. As we saw with the most recent deficit figures, a growing economy will in fact reduce the size of the budget deficit. In order to achieve optimal economic growth, Congress must adhere to sane spending guidelines while promoting smart policies devoted to growing businesses and creating jobs."
- Affirmative action: "Studies show enormous disparities still exist in education, healthcare, employment and economic opportunities along racial lines in the United States. I believe programs are still necessary to help close these divides. I support giving people opportunities. Programs must be fair to all Marylanders – of every color – and they should focus on economic empowerment."
- On gay marriage: Steele has stated that he personally opposes a federal marriage amendment to ban same-sex marriage and believes that states should decide the issue for themselves but has indicated he would uphold the current party platform and thus support the amendment if elected RNC Chairman. He rates the issue of banning same-sex marriage low in importance.
- Stem cell research: "We have a lot to gain through furthering stem cell research, but medical breakthroughs should be fundamentally about saving, not destroying, human life. Therefore, I support stem cell research that does not destroy the embryo." In February 2006 Steele compared embryonic stem cell research to medical experiments performed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, remarks for which he later apologized.
- Health care: " We need to increase access to health insurance through Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and high deductible policies, so individuals and families can purchase the insurance that's best for them and meets their specific needs.... I support allowing small businesses to band together and compete for better insurance options.... To help increase our nation’s seniors access to affordable care, I have called to extend the sign up period for the Medicare Prescription Drug plan."
- Immigration: "Secure our borders first. Let us know and let us make sure the American people know that we're taking care of the important business of dealing with the illegal immigration into this country. You cannot begin to address the concerns of the people who are already here unless and until you have made certain that no more are coming in behind them." 
- National Security: "How do we engage in an enemy we can't see? How do we understand and know their next move? This is going to be a challenging question of the day...I'm not for shooting first and asking questions later." He believes in using "smart intelligence on the ground" while "preparing and placing ourselves in a position to act." 
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: "I think if the government were to get out of the way and let the small business community and corporations of America weed themselves through this process, it's survival of the fittest,"
- Chip Saltsman: "Our Party is facing a stiff head wind right now. The leadership necessary to face these turbulent times requires that we appreciate how our actions and our words are often times used to define who we are as Republicans. I know Chip Saltsman, I know his character; and while his attempt at humor was clearly misplaced, it does not make him indifferent to the important work of building the coalitions necessary to make our party stronger. And yet, we must be mindful that self-inflicted wounds not only distract us from regaining our strength as a Party, but further diminish our credibility with an increasingly diverse community of voters. As RNC Chairman, I want us to be a lot smarter about such things and more appreciative that our actions always speak louder than our words."
- African American Voters: "Just because a black man is running the RNC doesn't mean black folks are going to...be a Republican. All the problems and concerns that are very important to African Americans don't get solved overnight. There is still black businesses that are being red-lined in neighborhoods that are struggling...So what I think it does do is send the appropriate message that right now at this hour the Republican Party gets it. We are prepared to come into town squares and into town halls and meet with the community, talk about those issues, talk about the differences between us and work to earn their vote. We're not going to cede that opportunity any longer. This mind set they won't vote for us anyway is over...We want to be competitive everywhere. And I think this is a great opportunity to do it. And the conservative message resonates...So this is an opportunity to say we get it, we're going to move forward. And bring along those who want to be with us and open up our arms and our doors and our tables to new voters and new opportunities."
- Gun Control: "You can have all the gun control laws in the country, but if you don't enforce them, people are going to find a way to protect themselves. We need to recognize that bad people are doing bad things with these weapons. It's not the law-abiding citizens, it's not the person who uses it as a hobby...Society should draw lines. What do you need an assault weapon for, if you're going hunting? That's overkill. But I don't think that means you go to a total ban for those who want to use gun for skeet shooting or hunting or things like that But what's the point of passing gun laws if we're not going to enforce them? If you want to talk about gun control, that's where you need to start. We've got 300 gun laws on the books right now. At the end of the day, it's about how we enforce the law."
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