Steele Still On Board With Scozzafava

As high-profile Republicans (other than Newt Gingrich) flock to endorse Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in New York's 23rd district special election over the Republican in the three-way race, Dede Scozzafava (R) still has one prominent supporter besides the former Speaker: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

"I support the republican nominee as the republican party chairman, and that's the way it should go, right?" Steele told NBC's Chuck Todd this morning during an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe (video here--fast forward to 4:55).

Conservatives far and wide have alleged Scozzafava is too liberal, as Hoffman has won endorsements from Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Dick Armey, the Club for Growth, RedState, the National Review, and The Washington Times. Supporting him has become an emblem of conservative credibility.

Conversely, Scozzafava has become something of a third rail for prominent Republicans: if a 2012 hopeful--say, Pawlenty--had endorsed Scozzafava, he would have sparked the ire of the national conservative base. Gingrich remains her only big-time supporter, arguing that the GOP should pursue more electable candidates, rather than "purge" the moderates from its ranks. Steele has taken his lumps from conservatives, but, as party chairman, he's probably not on the hook for this one.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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