Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Sunday that he “appreciates” high estimates for the number of seats the GOP may win Tuesday, but that he’s more focused on hitting the mark of 39 seats to take back the majority in the House of Representatives.
“If we get 39 seats and take the majority, that’s a success,” Steele said on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley. “If we get 37 seats, that’s success. Keep in mind, we got to keep this thing in context here: we were a party out of power.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said on the show that he thinks the GOP unifies around privatizing Social Security, refusing to revamp the tax code and sending jobs overseas, adding that the GOP won’t compromise.
When Crowley asked Steele about President Barack Obama’s accusations that GOP refuses to compromise, Steele said Republicans won’t compromise on the principles they run on, adding that he thinks the Obama White House hasn’t been much better at coming to the table either.
“When we talked about health care, we put a series of agenda items on the table and we couldn’t even get a meeting with the White House to talk about those things,” Steele said. “You don’t create the kind of jobs we need to stimulate this economy by going first to government. You go into the marketplace, that’s the argument that’s been made.”
Steele said the Republican Party has fought its way back from a low state in the public’s mind and is certainly in a better position than it was a year ago.
“We were a party, that, on the covers of magazines around this country were called an endangered species,” Steele said. “We were going to be regionalized, marginalized to the lower portion of the political spectrum. We have battled our way back.”
Durbin said he thinks the message of the Republican Party is “we are not Democrats” and that he expects voters to realize that on their way to the polls. Durbin also downplayed the significance of the GOP gaining seats on Tuesday.
“Only twice in history has a president gained ground in an off-year election,” Durbin said. “Of course we’ll lose some seats in the Senate and in the House, that’s what history tells us.”