Republican National Chairman Michael Steele Friday offered support to tea party activists and dismissed the suggestion that recent victories for the movement would hurt his party in key races this fall.
"What political analysis gets you to the conclusion that there's a disconnect between them and us when we're fighting for the same issues?" he said after a GOP rally. "It doesn't make much sense to me."
After Steele touted S.C. 5th District candidate Mike Mulvaney and other GOP candidates, he singled out South Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint.
Along with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, DeMint was one of few prominent Republicans to back Christine O'Donnell, the tea party favorite who Tuesday defeated a veteran GOP congressman for the Senate nomination in Delaware.
"I thank Jim DeMint for standing with Christine O'Donnell," Steele said to cheers.
Polls have suggested that her nomination could essentially give the otherwise winnable seat to Democrats. Former Bush strategist Karl Rove accused O'Donnell of saying "nutty things," and said her victory will make it hard for the party to win the seat.
Steele, on another stop of his "Fire Pelosi" bus tour, spoke to around 100 GOP supporters at a Rock Hill, S.C., campaign headquarters. On Wednesday his tour stopped in Raleigh and Fayetteville, N.C., where he was joined by 8th District Republican Harold Johnson.
The tour is designed to fire up supporters, many of whom held red "Fire Pelosi" signs. Steele called the Democratic House Speaker from California "symbolic of the trouble in Washington."
He urged Republicans "to take it to the streets" this fall.
"You all remember 2006 and 2008," he said, referring to elections in which his party lost big. "Now the American people are giving us another opportunity. Let's not blow it."
Introducing Steele, South Carolina GOP Chair Karen Floyd praised his support for the tea party.
"He has embraced the tea party like none other," she said. "He understands that this is a grassroots movement."
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