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Steele: 'I'm familiar with foot-in-mouth disease'

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said on Sunday that he can relate to candidates whose campaigns have been pockmarked by poor publicity over gaffes or misstatements.

"Folks make mistakes," said Steele during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, "Lord knows I'm familiar with foot in mouth disease."

Some GOP candidates -- particularly those who are relative political novices propelled to victories in their party primaries by Tea Party forces -- have faced criticism over statements made during televised debates and appearances over the course of the 2010 campaign. Last week, Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell appeared to be unfamiliar with the language of the First Amendment; Colorado's Ken Buck equated homosexuality with alcoholism during a debate last Sunday on Meet the Press. Nevada's Sharron Angle faced ridicule after telling Hispanic students that "some of you look a little more Asian to me."

Steele, whose two year tenure at the helm of the GOP committee has been marked by gaffes and lackluster fundraising, said that candidates often misspeak in "the heat of a battle" but that voters will ultimately choose representatives in Washington who will fight for their interests.

"What really matters is how voters receive that, how the voters look at those candidates," he said, adding that "people understand where their heart is."

Asked if O'Donnell would make a good senator, Steele said, "I think she would be. Again, I don't get to make that judgment. The people in her state get to make that judgment."