.- The Republican National Committee has chosen Michael Steele, a devout Catholic who is well-known for his charisma and strong work ethic, as its new chairman.
Steele, who previously served as the lieutenant governor of Maryland, is the first black chairman of the Republican Party. He was selected after six rounds of voting with 91 votes out of a possible 168. Steele beat out Ken Blackwell, Ohio's former secretary of state, and Saul Anuzis, Michigan GOP chairman, to win the chairmanship.
Some Republicans questioned Steele's conservative credentials during the campaigning for the chairmanship because of his past association with Christie Todd Whitman's Republican Leadership Council (RLC). Many conservatives within the Party ridiculed the RLC's "big tent" philosophy, which they say attempted to bring pro-abortion candidates onto the Republican ticket.
Deal Hudson, a Catholic political commentator, explained that he first became convinced of Steele's pro-life convictions by a 2003 meeting he invited Steele to with the U.S. Catholic bishops' executive committee.
According to Hudson, Steele spoke "very directly, but diplomatically, to the bishops about their need to promote the pro-life cause with greater vigor. He talked about his disappointment with their leadership and its consequences among the African-American community. When he finished talking there was a powerful silence in the room."
Steele's pro-life credentials were even further verified by his 2006 Senate run in Maryland, Hudson said.
The new chaiman was in good spirits Friday as he accepted the top post of the Republican National Committee. "It's time for something completely different, and we're gonna bring it to them," he said, according to FOX News. "Get ready, baby. It's time to turn it on."
"People like Mike," former Governor of Maryland Robert Ehrlich Jr. told the Baltimore Sun. "He's really charismatic. He's a really solid person. He's a solid family guy."
Michael Steeleâs Catholic roots include attending Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington D.C. and then, in 1981, entering the seminary to study for the Augustinian Friars at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
After completing the pre-novitiate period, Steele entered the novitiate for the Augustinians in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Six months later, he decided to pursue a career in law.
"Michael was a very bright, articulate man who I would say gave himself very sincerely to the whole process of discernment," Fr. Francis J. Doyle, who was Steeleâs novice master and spiritual director, told the Baltimore Sun.