RNC Chairman Michael Steele to attend debate

By Felicia Sonmez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 28, 2010; 6:14 PM

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has confirmed that he will attend an early January debate, putting the beleaguered chairman on track for his first public face-off with his rivals as he pursues a second term as head of the committee.

All the announced candidates in the race, including Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, former Michigan Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis, former RNC official Maria Cino, former RNC political director Gentry Collins and former ambassador to Luxembourg Ann Wagner, are slated to attend the debate Monday at the National Press Club.

The conservative Daily Caller Web site had previously announced that it would sponsor the debate, along with the anti-tax organization Americans for Tax Reform and the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List. But Steele's attendance had been an open question: He declined to participate last month in an RNC debate sponsored by the conservative group FreedomWorks, which was held before he formally announced that he is seeking a second term.

The announcement comes as Steele's rivals are ramping up their bids to succeed him. Priebus announced late Sunday that he has won the backing of California Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel, who was once a staunch Steele supporter.

Steele is also facing an "Anybody but Steele" campaign among RNC members who are determined to force him from the committee's top spot.

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