Inside the GOP, says Steele, ‘There’s a lot of grasping at straws’

Updated

Former RNC chairman Michael Steele pushed back on party leaders who’ve been making excuses for Mitt Romney’s loss. His response to Karl Rove’s “explanation”– that Barack Obama won a second term in office by “suppressing the vote”?  “It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

“There’s a lot of grasping at straws in the face of what was, a real, you know, a real smackdown by the Obama team on Tuesday night,” Steele told Hardball host Chris Matthews on Friday night.

Rove, the architect of George W. Bush’s victories (who once promised to build a permanent Republican majority), said on Fox News Thursday night that Obama was victorious because he aired negative ads that “turned off voters.”

Rove said Team Obama had a strategy of telling Americans, “You may not like who I am and I know you can’t bring yourself to vote for me, but I’m going to paint  this other guy as simply a rich guy who only cares about himself.”

Rove’s Crossroads organizations poured more than $300 million into the election. His interview on Fox came just days after he refused to believe Obama had won Ohio, even after the networks – including Fox– had declared it.

To bolster his argument that Obama had suppressed the vote, Rove started to go through statistical points about the Democrats’ vote total and their margin of victory. Host Megyn Kelly stepped in: “You keep saying that, but he won, Karl.”

Steele advised Rove and the GOP that “instead of trying to analyze this thing so that you feel better about what happened, you [should] understand and appreciate that the country has changed, you got your clock cleaned because you were out of step with where the country is and now you need to regroup and refocus.”

Inside the GOP, says Steele, 'There's a lot of grasping at straws'

Updated