Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele's cross-country road show rolled into Minneapolis Wednesday, with the sometimes-embattled Steele expressing confidence that the GOP will seize control of the House of Representatives next month.
"When you look at the House, specifically, I see tremendous momentum out there right now," Steele said as he headed to a state Republican fundraiser at a downtown hotel ballroom. "I put it this way: We're at [picking up] 38 seats and we're working to get to 39" -- the number the party needs to gain the majority in the House.
Regarding the odds gaining control of one or both chambers on Nov. 2, Steele said, "I don't like to make the odds. What I've got to do is go out and get the vote. That's why we're here in Minnesota."
For the past month, Steele has been crisscrossing the country on his "Fire Pelosi Bus Tour," taking direct aim at the current House speaker. His big red bus was parked in front of the Minneapolis Hilton while he mingled with more than 100 party activists. Among those attending the party's Elephant Club luncheon were Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Sen. Norm Coleman.
"Him being here helps a lot," said state party Chairman Tony Sutton. "It helps us raise money and it indicates how important Minnesota is, in both the congressional races and the governor's race."
Steele pointed to races in the First and Eighth congressional districts where party strategists say they have a shot at knocking off Democratic incumbents.
As for whether sometimes-unruly Tea Party activists have been an asset or liability for the party, Steele enthusiastically embraced them. "Absolutely, they've been a big help," he said. "The synergy of the Tea Party has been phenomenal. A lot of the noise coming from the Left about the Tea Party and the GOP is just noise. It's a myth there's some tension or that they somehow imperil our efforts. That's just crazy talk by the Left.
"The reality is that the Tea Party represents, from my perspective, part of the ignition of this renaissance that we're seeing right now. They have been the spark and the energy at the grassroots level. They're reminding the GOP of our constitutional roots, of our focus on individual liberty and freedoms."