Coleman wants Steele to stay through election, but doesn’t rule out RNC bid in 2011

WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Norm Coleman did not rule out running for the top job at the Republican National Committee next year, though he did emphatically squelch any suggestion that RNC chairman Michael Steele ought to leave before November.

“We need him to be focused on winning in November,” Coleman told the hosts of Top Line, an ABC News/Washington Post webcast from the nation’s capital. “There is no effort to replace Michael Steele.”

Coleman, now the head of the American Action Forum and American Action Fund here in Washington, has been frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for the RNC job when it comes up after the election — and rumors flew after a POLITICO article quoted aides who said Coleman called the post “intriguing.

Coleman, for his part, e-mailed statements to reporters saying he was solely focused on 2010. He scrapped a planned trip to Kansas City for the RNC’s summer meeting and has since (I think deliberately) tried not to invite speculation on the topic. But when asked on TopLine if he’d run for chair in 2011, Coleman didn’t exactly rule it out.

“We’re not looking at it,” he said. “We’re looking at 2010 and we’re all united.”

Other highlights included:

  • Coleman thinks the Tea Party “may be a very very good thing” for the GOP, despite taking out several of their incumbents, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Bob Bennett of Utah, both of whom served with Coleman in the Senate. Coleman said having an engaged electorate focusing on deficits and fiscal issues will ultimately help the GOP at the polls.
  • Races where Tea Partiers have pulled primary upsets over incumbents may be tougher to win, he conceded, but Coleman predicted victory in all of them.
  • Coleman’s political group has been strongly involved in Senate races in Wisconsin and Washington. The group had donated some money to Murkowski in Alaska and Coleman was “very much surprised” she lost. Coleman said his group would support centrist Republican Mike Castle in Delaware (who is facing a Tea Party-backed challenger), though declined to say to what level exactly.

The full webcast with Coleman can be seen here. His segment begins around the 3 minute mark.

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