New Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele started the war of words with radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, calling the conservative icon a mere entertainer whose show is sometimes ugly.
But today, Steele dismissed the spat as a "sideshow distraction" and said it's time to move on.
"My point is that there are a lot of opinions out there, some come from people who are notable, some from people who are not so notable. And my job is to try to balance that. I wasn't that effective at it this week, but, you know, I've been 30 days on the job and we'll, you know, move forward," Steele said on NBC's "Today" show.
"And along the way, my opponents, Democrats, and even a few others out there, will try to mix us up and get us off track. But my goal is to stay focused on trying to get us in a direction where we can win and have something important to say to the American people.
"This is a great side-show distraction. You know, there's a lot of popcorn going around for folks who are watching this and enjoying it. But I've got to stay focused trying to put a message out there that's going to move us forward," said Steele, who ended up apologizing to Limbaugh, even though the host lambasted Steele's rocky start as party leader.
Steele vowed to focus on rebuilding the Republican party, which has suffered two consecutive devastating losses in national elections.
"My job is to try to craft a message for our party and work with the Senate and the House leadership, to work with our governors across the country and build us back," he said. "I mean, you've seen the numbers. We're at 26 percent. I've got to try to rebuild the front and the back and the top and the bottom of this party, and that's what I'm going to do."
UPDATE: Meanwhile on his show today, Limbaugh, who has stood by his statements that he hopes that President Obama fails because he disagrees on policy, challenged Obama to come on to this program to debate the issues.
"If you can win at this, then come here and beat me at my own game, and get rid of me once and for all, and show all the people of America that I am wrong," said Limbaugh. "If you take me out, if you can wipe me out in a debate and prove to the rest of America that what I say is senseless and wrong, do you realize you will own the United States of America?"
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.