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RNC chairman Steele fights to retain post

OXON HILL, Md. - His re-election bid in serious doubt, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele sought support from members of his party's central committee yesterday as he struggled to avert defeat after a free-spending, gaffe-filled two years.

Four challengers campaigned to replace him in an unpredictable race to lead the party into the 2012 presidential and congressional campaigns.

The rivals in Friday's balloting included Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus, former Missouri chairwoman Ann Wagner and former Michigan chairman Saul Anuzis.

Former Bush administration official Maria Cino also sought to take the reins of a party committee focused on limiting President Barack Obama to one term in the White House.

Weary of Steele's gaffes, missteps and high spending, many members of the cash-strapped committee seemed eager to boot him from the job after only two years. Steele's RNC raised almost $80 million ahead of November elections, spent all of it, then took out a $15-million loan.

That sum helped deliver gains but his gaffes and spending habits put Steele on weak footing among the RNC members. They had hoped he would be an articulate spokesman for the party out of power after 2008. - AP

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