Alex Witt   |  June 22, 2013

Steele: 'This is not a litmus-test party'

In Part I of "Office Politics," MSNBC’s Alex Witt sits down with the former RNC chair and potential future governor of Maryland, Michael Steele. Steele evaluates the current state of the GOP and opines how it needs to improve. Witt and Steele also discuss his feud with the current RNC Chair, Reince Priebus, and the friendship and loyalty lost between the two leaders.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> michael steele , who says he's considering a run for governor of maryland next year. we discuss the feud with the current chair. but i began by asking michael where he thinks the republican party needs to improve.

>> look at what governor chris christie is going through. look at some of the other republicans out there who have the responsibility of governing, have the responsibility of leadership. we have tried to bring the narrative of the party closer to where the american people are, recognizing how diverse and vast that diversity is. and yet, you know, we tend to try to, you know, do the one size fits all. when i was chairman they tried to change the rules. so we're going to have a litmus test . i'll be damned if you have a litmus test while i'm chair. we don't do that anymore. we don't accept you for who you are. we try to make you fit into a particular version of what conservative is or what we think a republican is. and we lost sight of the fact that the strength of the party was always recognizing that it was the individual who got to make that choice, not some collective group of people sitting in washington calling themselves republican national committee .

>> but the race chris christie has to run in new jersey is different than the national race he may be running in 2016 .

>> it is a tool. it is a recognition and understanding that here we have a red state , a red governor in a blue state governing a blue state , in those terms which i hate. this red/blue craziness has to stop.

>> what is behind your rather public feud?

>> it is called light, trust.

>> or lack thereof between you guys?

>> yeah. this was the guy that i turned to in the final analysis before i made a decision to get his thoughts and opinion. so a lot of the stuff that he throws on me is, oh, left the rnc in bad shape and all this debt. this is stuff he advised me to do. it's stuff he signed off on. and as a member of the rnc stuff he voted for. so to have your friend, who is whispering in your ear, do this, do that, then go out and take all that and turn it around against you, you have to get a feeling what caesar felt like. friendship and loyalty are very priceless gifts. they're not easily given. particularly in politics. and when they are lost, in my view, they're lost pretty much forever.

>> word is that you are considering running for maryland governor . you said as much.

>> i have. look, it's kind of obvious maryland is my home state, obviously. i was lieutenant governor of the state . we have an open gubernatorial race coming up next year. i have friends who are already committed and are running on the republican side . and certainly i have friends committed and running on the democrat side. but i want to take a look at it. nothing formal. there's no bells and whistles being formed and played and bands and all that stuff. it's just taking a bird's eye view of the race to see if it's something doable for next year. we will make a decision in the next three or four months. over the last 10 years, especially, particularly in places like washington where you have guys and gals show up who it's all about them. it's all about driving around in the black cars and having lunch at some fancy restaurant downtown. but leadership is about being on the street, being in neighborhoods, being in the community, cleaning your hands, if you will. with sweat and love and effort of everyday folks. or the maryland dream.

>> more of our conversation today at 12:00 noon when michael and i discuss how his mother influenced his life and depebgt pictures the american dream . and the challenges of being african-american and republican. we're waiting