In a speech before some 100 Washington state Republicans last Saturday evening at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele retreated, without apologizing, from his recent comments that the war in Afghanistan is “unwinnable:”
I think at this moment it is important for me to also address that, I know some folks feel the comments that I made recently about the war in Afghanistan, that I may feel that way too.But earlier in the evening, the beleaguered Steele found a new best friend, Washington U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier, who stated:
I respect all of you so much and particularly the men and women in uniform who come from this state, who serve in this state. I want to tell you personally from me to you and to all of them that I am 1000% for victory for our men and women in service, that we cannot leave them on the battlefield alone, that we cannot undermine an opportunity to win.
We are fighting in a tough place. It is hard to win there. But with the right leadership, the right resources, and most especially, the right commitment to win, the right commitment to win, we will. We will win this war on terrorism! We will not give one inch of ground to those that hate our country! Let there be no confusion about that. The sacrifice has been too great by many here and elsewhere around our nation.
So for the sake of those brave men and women who are currently serving in uniform, for the sake of those who’ve lost their lives, and for their families and their kin, this party stands with them. I stand with them. Your Chairman, your National Committeeman, your National Committeewoman stand with our fighting men and women. Period. No confusion. No questions.
You know what Michael? I gotta tell you Michael, my friend; they’re attacking you right now. I know you’re a big man. Stand tall and let’s stand tall together, shoulder-to-shoulder. Let’s fight!
Those comments directed by Didier to the very personification of the “establishment party” seem a bit strange, considering Didier just called fellow Republican candidate Dino Rossi “the establishment party's insider.” (Dino had another engagement that evening and wasn’t on hand.)
Of course, Didier’s comments to Steele must be taken in the context of Didier’s own statements that the war in Afghanistan is not just unwinnable, but illegal. Didier was just repeating the praises of Steele’s defeatism uttered by his “hero” Ron Paul, who said Steele is right and that Republicans should stick by him.
For his part, Steele admitted to a sort of man-crush on Didier:
I’m a huge fan. As a native Washingtonian [Ed. Note: of the other Washington] , I watched him play and win Super Bowls for my teams, so I was a very happy camper. I’ve gotten to know Clint over the years and just really appreciate his passion and his fire.Steele emphasized youth during his speech, saying that Republicans would cease to exist if younger people were not recruited into the party. He called for all those under 40 present at the rally to join him on the stage. Steele then said, “I present you with the, not the future of the Republican Party in Washington, but the now.”
The rest of the Republican Resurgence rally was pretty standard, with lots of fiery speeches and enthusiasm. My personal favorite was when Rep. Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup) told the crowd that we have 118 quality Republican candidates running for the state House of Representatives, and if “you aren’t excited, you aren’t paying attention.”