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Michael Steele Fires Back At Critics: 'I Ain't Going Anywhere'

First Posted: 07/08/10 04:00 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 06:00 PM ET

Eleni Angelides contributed reporting.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele fired back at critics who have called for his resignation in the wake of his recent suggestion that Afghanistan was a war "of Obama's choosing."

In the embattled RNC chair's first public appearance since making the comments, Steele told a crowd of Republicans in Colorado Thursday that he's staying put.

"I ain't going anywhere," Steele declared. "I'm here. I'm here... Look, every time something happens, people go, 'Oh, you should step down, step down. Well, the reality of it is that's not happening, so stop the noise on that."

The RNC chairman did not apologize for his latest remarks, but quipped that his "individuality" at times puts him at odds with his party. "[It] gets me in a little trouble -- but that's O.K.," he said.

Steele's reaction to calls for him to step down should come as no surprise given how he has responded to similar demands in the past.

Earlier this year, Steele lashed out at Republican detractors by telling them "to get a life," and adding, "If you don't want me in the job, fire me. But until then, shut up. Get with the program or get out of the way."

And Steele has signaled he doesn't lose any sleep at night from his missteps. When asked in January if he might be more careful in choosing his words to avoid inadvertent verbal gaffes, he replied: "Oh, no. Accidents happen, baby."

Though Steele has many detractors in both parties, take a look at several key Republicans who have called on the RNC chairman to step down:

Founder And Editor Of The Weekly Standard Bill Kristol
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HuffPost's Sam Stein reports: Several prominent conservatives offered swift, negative reactions to Michael Steele on Friday, after the RNC chairman was caught on camera saying that Afghanistan is a largely unwinnable war of President Obama's choosing.

The pushback crested with Bill Kristol -- still an influential voice among Republican lawmakers -- writing a letter to Steele on his Weekly Standard site calling for the RNC leader's resignation.

Needless to say, the war in Afghanistan was not "a war of Obama's choosing." It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort. Indeed, as the DNC Communications Director (of all people) has said, your statement "puts [you] at odds with about 100 percent of the Republican Party.

And not on a trivial matter. At a time when Gen. Petraeus has just taken over command, when Republicans in Congress are pushing for a clean war funding resolution, when Republicans around the country are doing their best to rally their fellow citizens behind the mission, your comment is more than an embarrassment. It's an affront, both to the honor of the Republican party and to the commitment of the soldiers fighting to accomplish the mission they've been asked to take on by our elected leaders.

There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they're certainly entitled to make their case. But one of them shouldn't be the chairman of the Republican party.
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