Linda Chavez

The party could look to its own elected leaders. There are lots of good people to pick from: Sen. John Thune, Rep. Paul Ryan, Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Gov. Mitch Daniels -- to name just a few. But all these people are busy with legislative duties or running their states. So why not look to someone who's been elected -- and therefore understands best how elections are won and lost -- but is out of office now and isn't planning to run for office again anytime soon.

Jim Talent comes to mind. A four-term congressman from Missouri, he won a special election for U.S. Senate in 2002 but lost his re-election bid in the Democratic sweep of 2006. He recently announced he won't be running to fill retiring GOP Sen. Kit Bond's seat this year, which means he could devote full time to the job.

Talent's accomplishments are many. He was one of the principle authors of the 1994 welfare reform bill. He is vice chairman of the bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism. He's a terrific debater and as bright as they come. Talent could actually help the GOP regain the mantle as the party of ideas.

But before the RNC can pick new leadership, the current leader must step aside. There are already those who are calling for Steele's forced ouster. But that would be unfortunate, and tough under the party's rules. Far better for Steele to decide it's time to go on his own.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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