US Republicans elect new chairman

Michael Steele becomes first African-American to chair Republican Party.

    Steele is set to develop a strategy to take
    on Barack Obama [Reuters]

    "It's time for something completely different and we’re going to bring it to them," Steele said. 

    Steele won after six ballots by a vote of 91 to 77, with 85 votes needed to win.

    New strategy

    Steele, a Roman Catholic former corporate lawyer, has promised to close the digital divide with Democrats who have used the internet to raise record amounts of money and build an army of volunteers.

    Some Republicans have accused Steele of being insufficiently conservative because of his past association with a moderate-leaning group.

    Camille Elhassani, Al Jazeera's White House producer, said Steele faces an electorate that has not only abandoned the traditional Republican Party but is openly hostile to them, following eight years of George Bush, the former US president.

    Elhassani said Steele would have to focus on uniting the Republicans with a new strategy and message.

    Steele also acknowledged the historic nature of the vote and the need to take the party in a new direction.

    "We're going to bring this party to every corner, every board room, every neighborhood, every community. And we're going to say to friend and foe alike, we want you to be a part of us, we want you to work with us."

    His election could help counter a view that the party has exploited racial tensions to win white votes since the 1960s.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    A relatively new independence and fresh waves of conflict inspire a South Sudanese refugee to build antiwar video games.