Gingrich Says Steele Helped Shield GOP from "Racism" Charge

While not endorsing his re-election bid as Republican National Committee chairman, Newt Gingrich believes Michael Steele helped protect Republicans “from what otherwise would have been a continuing unending attack on us using racism as a wedge.”

“I don’t think people should underestimate how helpful it was to have him chair the party at this time period and the transition. The fact that we picked up African-American candidates and the fact that we picked up Latino candidates really is a significant achievement.”

That aside, Gingrich repeated concerns about the “financial condition” of the RNC under Steele’s watch, noting that an “amazing amount of money” needs to be raised in order to defeat Barack Obama in two years. Steele’s detractors have said he has raised considerably less money than previous chairmen who led the GOP in the last two non-presidential cycles.

Steele, however, says that’s an unfair comparison, arguing that he has raised $179 million, which is 37 percent more than the Democratic National Committee raised when Democrats were in a similar political position (lacking both control of Congress and the White House).

Regardless, Newt will work with whoever the next chairman is, and says he’s confident committee members will pick someone who will help lead Republicans to victory in 2012.

“Michael’s got to go out and make the case that he’s that guy.”