RNC: The Man of Steele

UPDATE 5:45 p.m. ET: Well, it’s over, and now the MSM takes over to distort everything. Michael Steele is predictably misidentified as a “moderate” by the Associated Press. Sigh. And here’s Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post seeking the Pulitzer Prize for non sequiturs:

Asked about the controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh and his back and forth with President Barack Obama, Steele was careful not to wholly embrace the controversial conservative talk radio host. “Rush will say what Rush has to say, we will do what we have to do as a party,” said Steele.

Eh? What does that have to do with anything? When was Howard Dean ever asked about any “controversy surrounding” Keith Olbermann or Randi Rhodes or Dan Rather?
Thanks to Dan Riehl for the linkage. A good roundup at Hot Air.
After the fifth ballot, I went outside to have a smoke and found myself chatting with Sally Atwater, widow of former RNC chairman Lee Atwater. Wow.
UPDATE: Hey, get your DNC talking points via Politico.

UPDATE 4:15 p.m. ET: Sixth ballot:

  • Steele 91
  • Dawson 77

A hard-fought battle. Steele just gave his acceptance speech. Will update later with sundry notes.

UPDATE 3:40 p.m. ET: Fifth ballot:

  • Steele 79
  • Dawson 69
  • Anuzis 20

Anuzis announces his withdrawal but does not endorse. If Steele can get just one-third of the Anuzis vote, Steele wins.

UPDATED & BUMPED 3:13 p.m. ET: BLACKWELL DROPS OUT, ENDORSES STEELE. WILL UPDATE AFTER 5TH BALLOT.

UPDATE 2:50 p.m. ET: Fourth ballot:

  • Dawson 62
  • Steele 60
  • Anuzis 31
  • Blackwell 15

Hmmm. Looks like 28 of Duncan’s votes went to Dawson, so my friend who warned earlier to watch out for Katon might have been onto something. If Steele and Anuzis could join forces, that’s it. Next vote set to begin at 3 p.m., results probably by 3:20.

BTW, of all people, guess who I just bumped into? Vanderbilt Professor Carol Swain.

UPDATED & BUMPED 2:24 p.m. ET: DUNCAN PULLS OUT. DOES NOT ENDORSE. FOURTH BALLOT READY TO BEGIN. WILL UPDATE!

FOLLOW-UP 2:31 p.m.: Welcome Michelle Malkin readers. After the 3rd ballot, Blackwell, Steele and Duncan were seen conferring in a corridor. That conference apparently was related to Duncan’s subsequent withdrawal. In his withdrawal speech, Duncan said, “Obviously, the winds of change are blowing at the RNC.” He got a standing ovation, but did not endorse any of the other candidates. Members voted down a motion to delay the 4th ballot. Will update with the results. If Duncan’s people back Steele, that’s it. We shall see.

EARLIER: Third ballot:

  • Steele 51
  • Duncan 44
  • Dawson 34
  • Anuzis 24
  • Blackwell 15

Hmmm. Steele takes the lead, but Dawson slightly closes the gap. Somebody pointed out that if Duncan were to drop out now, he could throw his support to another candidate and probably be the kingmaker. But if he keeps losing votes on successive ballots, he won’t have that power much longer.

An RNC staffer (and Duncan supporter): “Off the record? I think you’ve got to watch out for Katon.” All manner of crazy speculation among the press corps. We shall see.

Second ballot:

  • Duncan 48
  • Steele 48
  • Dawson 29
  • Anuzis 24
  • Blackwell 19

Duncan held onto most of his first-ballot support, but Steele moves into a tie. Blackwell dropping below 20 is ominous for him. Just talked to John LaBeaume, who points out that Blackwell endorsing Dawson (or vice-versa) would produce a bloc of 48 votes. A combo of Anuzis and Steele would control 72 votes. Too early to tell yet which way this will swing.

First ballot:

  • Duncan 52
  • Steele 46
  • Dawson 28
  • Anuzis 22
  • Blackwell 20

Steele was stronger than expected, and Blackwell weaker than expected. My best source had predicted 55 for Duncan on the first ballot, so he came in lower than predicted. A Blackwell supporter just said it’s 1997 all over again, when Nicholson got 23 votes on the first ballot but pulled out to win in six ballots.

Assume: 52 votes is the ceiling for Duncan. As someone in Press Row pointed out, that’s 116 votes for change.

They just gave the call for members and proxies to vote for the second ballot. Expect further updates . . .

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