Criticism of Michael Steele by fellow Republicans continued Sunday with Sen. John McCain, the GOP standbearer in 2008, saying that Steele will have to "assess" whether he can still lead the party after the furor over his remarks on Afghanistan.
On Thursday, Steele had said at a political event in Connecticut that the war in Afghanistan might not be winnable and to "keep in mind, for our federal candidates, this is a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."
Steele has tried to defuse the criticism that immediately came from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats by issuing a statement on the Republican National Committee site saying that while the current strategy in Afghanistan was set by Obama, "our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war.
But McCain said on ABC's This Week that Steele's original remarks were "wildly inaccurate, and there's no excuse for them." He added that Steele had e-mailed him, saying they were misconstrued.
"The fact is that I think that Mr. Steele is going to have to assess as to whether he can still lead the Republican Party as chairman of the Republican National Committee and make an appropriate decision," said McCain, speaking from Kabul where he is visiting with a congressional delegation.
On Fox News Sunday, South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint also described Steele's remarks as "inaccurate" as well as "unacceptable," and said "Chairman Steele needs to apologize to our military, all the men and women who've been fighting in Afghanistan. This is America's war. It's not Obama's war."
DeMint's South Carolina Republican colleague, Lindsey Graham, said on CBS' Face the Nation that he was "dismayed, angry, upset" over Steele's remarks and called them "uninformed, unnecessary, unwise, untimely."
Asked if Steele should resign, Graham said, "It's up to him to see if he can lead the Republican Party after this comment. I'm going to leave it up to the Republican National Committee."
DeMint also wouldn't say if Steele should step down. "Whether or not he resigns is up to other people than me. But I need to see him focused on this November election, which is important because the Democrat Party is running our country in a ditch with the economy, our job situation, the debt situation. We need a chairman who's focused. "
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