Politics

Fmr. RNC Chair Warns Swamp in Danger of ‘Overflowing’

Steele says Trump risks alienating supporters by stacking administration with GOP insiders

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said during an interview Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that Kellyanne Conway was right to speak out over the weekend against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as a possible pick for secretary of state.

Steele, now a political analyst for MSNBC, stood up for the former Trump campaign manager after her sharp condemnation of Romney as a suitable secretary of state drew criticism. During interviews on Sunday, Conway made waves for saying that “loyal” supporters of President-Elect Donald Trump would view a potential Romney selection as a “betrayal.”

“Kellyanne brought in both her polling, her organization, her political skill set … to really bring that vote home for him.”

Steele supported Conway’s decision to speak out.

“Let’s not mistake this: Kellyanne Conway won this election. And so I don’t care about what anybody else says,” Steele told LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham. “She had the mechanisms to put to translate on the ground into votes what was necessary to win.”

When Conway took to the Sunday shows, Steele said she was speaking out of her “frustration” and essentially telling Trump, “Dude — do you realize that what you’re toying with could be a real problem? The people still have their torches and pitchforks out here, and they’re really ready to come to you here on this issue.”

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Steele credited Conway with her remarkable ability during Trump’s presidential campaign to look at and interpret the “polls and ups and downs and political operations on the ground to see where the candidate needs to be, why he needs to be there, what he needs to say when he gets there.”

“Kellyanne brought in both her polling, her organization, her political skill set … to really bring that vote home for him. To not just capture that Reagan Democrat vote that has been sitting on the sidelines that both parties have ignored for almost 20 years — not only capture that vote, but then get that vote out into the polls,” Steele said. “And I give her a lot of credit for that.”

The former RNC chairman also agreed with Conway’s warning that many Trump voters are worried about the stream of Washington insiders being selected to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Romney represents that “swamp,” Steele said, as do many of Trump’s other selections thus far — most recently including Elaine Chao, President George W. Bush’s labor secretary, as the secretary of transportation.

“The reality of it is, there are some very bright lines that were drawn by the voters in this election … and they don’t want the ‘same old, same old.’ This is about bringing the fox into the chicken coop a little bit with Romney,” Steele said.

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“I tell you — that whole idea, ‘draining the swamp’ — is like the swamp waters overflowing right now. And I think a lot of people are kind of looking at it and going, ‘Well, how are these people going to be outside the Washington ethos when they were the ones that created that ethos and created that mindset that we have rebelled against?'” Steele added. “But what I’m seeing right now is a lot of people coming off [Capitol] Hill into the administration — a lot of people formerly of the Hill coming into the administration.”

If Trump doesn’t want to risk alienating the fervent supporters who rallied with him and joined in his quest to bring about change, Steele advised the president-elect to select people for his administration who fit the outsider mold.

“It doesn’t work otherwise,” Steele said. “Unless you buy wholly into the concept of Trump — not the president, but the man himself and the vision he has and what you know he wants to do, how he intends to govern — I’ve said this from the very beginning. I see Trump more as a pragmatic populist who’s unattached to either party, neither institution, and does not have a need to be curried by them, nor to spend a whole lot of time with them.”

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