Tales from the Trail

Steele’s abortion comments anger fellow Republicans

Michael Steele has gone and put his foot in his mouth again. USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS

In an interview with GQ magazine, the Republican National Committee chairman described abortion as an “individual choice” and said individual states should decide its legality.

Those comments, predictably, have drawn a sharp rebuke from other Republican leaders who say he should stick to the party’s core position that abortion should be outlawed nationwide.

“Chairman Steele, as the leader of America’s pro-life conservative party, needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform. He then needs to get to work — or get out of the way,” said former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a former rival for the RNC job.

Mike Huckabee called Steele’s remarks troubling. “For Chairman Steele to even infer that taking a life is totally left up to the individual is not only a reversal of Republican policy and principle, but it’s a violation of the most basic of human rights,” the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate said on his blog.

Steele was widely praised as an eloquent speaker when he was elected as chairman of the Republican Party at the end of January. But since then, he’s spent plenty of time apologizing for off-hand comments that have angered many in the party and prompted some to suggest that he should resign.

The First Draft: Downtown Gordon Brown

That Gordon Brown, he won’t leave town. The British Prime Minister speaks to Congress at 11 a.m., where he is expected to urge lawmakers to steer clear of protectionism. OBAMA-BRITAIN/

There’s lots more happening on Capitol Hill today.

The Senate Judiciary Committee at 10:00 considers a “truth commission” that would examine the Bush administration.

At 2:30, the IRS testifies to the Senate Investigations subcommittee about its effort to force Swiss bank UBS to disclose the names of its well-heeled clients who may be hiding assets to avoid paying taxes.

Coleman, senator in limbo, visits old stomping ground

Republican Norm Coleman, who is in a court battle against comedian and Democrat Al Franken over who won the¬†Minnesota Senate seat in November’s election, decided to visit his old stomping ground on Tuesday, dropping by the weekly Republican policy luncheon.

USA-ELECTION/A mere 25 steps or so from the Senate floor, Coleman entered the luncheon with the new head of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele and told reporters he was just popping in to catch up with his brethren.

“Everyone understands how important this race is, how important this seat is. Folks have been supportive and are still engaged,” Coleman told reporters before the lunch.¬†”We were ahead on election night, ahead when the recount began and I expect that when all is said and done.”