Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele embraced the Rev. Al Sharpton as a "strong leader" yesterday while comparing some in his own party to an elephant's rear end.
Steele so far has weathered a recent controversy over RNC spending, including a $2,000 tab at a bondage-themed club in California, which upset fellow Republicans.
But his speech to a midtown gathering of Sharpton's National Action Network could set off a new round of GOP head-scratching.
Though Sharpton has long been vilified by Republicans, Steele hailed him as a "friend."
"We have spent time at various events together and at all times, we have talked about how do we move forward," Steele said.
Steele, the RNC's first African-American chairman, said he wanted to correct the party's past missteps with the black community.
"I work every day in this job, as I like to put it, to turn the elephant," he said, referring to the party's iconic symbol.
"Now, I don't know if you ever had to turn an elephant, but the end you have to start with is not necessarily the best place to start."
Aides later stressed that Steele was not referring to anyone in particular and was only talking about his efforts to better position his party.
He referred only indirectly to the Club Voyeur dust-up.
"You can't please everyone," he said, "but you can certainly make them all mad at you at the same time. Apparently, I am pretty good at that."
Turn the elephant? Why exactly would Micheal Steele need to turn the elephant? Turn the elephant towards what? Moving forward with race baiting haters like Al Sharpton? Forward to what? No thanks Steele. You turn yourself. I'll stay on the path of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution.