Senators Say Steele on Hot Seat as GOP Chairman

July 6, 2010 - 2:30 PM
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham spoke from the war zone Sunday to condemn GOP chairman Michael Steele's comment that Afghanistan was a "war of Obama's choosing."

In this July 15, 2008, file photo Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., then a Republican presidential candidate, laughs with Michael Steele, former Maryland Lt. Gov. who now heads the Republican National Committee, during a campaign stop in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Washington (AP) - Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham spoke from the war zone Sunday to condemn GOP chairman Michael Steele's comment that Afghanistan was a "war of Obama's choosing."
 
Neither GOP lawmaker, however, was outraged enough to demand Steele's resignation, as some other Republican have done. Both said from Kabul it was up to Steele to decide whether he could continue to lead the party.
 
Steele's remarks, a political gift to Democrats in a congressional election year, were captured Thursday on camera, during a Connecticut fundraiser that was closed to the news media, and posted online. The comments would make it difficult for Republican candidates to have Steele campaign for them.
 
"I think those statements are wildly inaccurate and there's no excuse for them," McCain said, adding that Steele sent the Arizona senator an e-mail saying the remarks "were misconstrued."
 
"I believe we have to win here. I believe in freedom. But 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," McCain told ABC's "This Week."
 
Graham, R-S.C., described himself as "dismayed, angry and upset. It was an uninformed, unnecessary, unwise, untimely comment."
 
He told CBS' "Face the Nation" that "this is not President Obama's war. This is American's war. We need to stand behind the president."
 
Asked whether Steele should quit, Graham said, "It's up to him to see if he can lead the Republican Party. It couldn't have come at a worst time."
 
At the fundraiser, Steele said, "This was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.
 
"If he's such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that's the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right? Because everyone who's tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed," Steele said. "And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan."
 
 
Feds to File Lawsuit over Arizona Immigration Law
By Bob Christie
Associated Press Writer
Phoenix (AP) - The U.S. Justice Department is filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's new law targeting illegal immigrants, setting the stage for a clash between the federal government and state over the nation's toughest immigration crackdown.
 
The planned lawsuit was confirmed to The Associated Press by a Justice Department official with knowledge of the plans. The official didn't want to be identified before a public announcement planned for later Tuesday.
 
The lawsuit will argue that Arizona's new measure requiring state and local police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws, like traffic stops, usurps federal authority.
 
Tuesday's action has been expected for weeks. President Barack Obama has called the state law misguided. Supporters say it is a reasonable reaction to federal inaction on immigration.
 
The law requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if there's a reasonable suspicion that they are in the country illegally.
 
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law in April, and it was set to go into effect July 29. The lawsuit could delay implementation of the law.
 
Arizona passed the law after years of frustration over problems associated with illegal immigration, including drug trafficking and violent kidnappings. The state is the biggest gateway into the U.S. for illegal immigrants, and is home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.
 
The lawsuit is expected to be announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor.
 
President Barack Obama addressed the Arizona law in a speech on immigration reform last week. He touched on one of the major concerns of federal officials, that other states were poised to follow Arizona by crafting their own immigration enforcement laws.
 
"As other states and localities go their own ways, we face the prospect that different rules for immigration will apply in different parts of the country," Obama said. "A patchwork of local immigration rules where we all know one clear national standard is needed."
 
The law makes it a state crime for legal immigrants to not carry their immigration documents and bans day laborers and people who seek their services from blocking traffic on streets.
 
The law also prohibits government agencies from having policies that restrict the enforcement of federal immigration law and lets Arizonans file lawsuits against agencies that hinder immigration enforcement.