RNC Chairman Michael Steele withdraws endorsement from Mark Kirk

This past June, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) — who is now running for Senate — was one of the eight Republicans to cast a vote in favor of Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation.

But ever since Kirk began taking heat from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, he has been trying desperately to backtrack from his vote.

Kirk has since offered contradictory explanations for his shifting stance. “I voted for [cap-and-trade] because it was in the narrow interests of my congressional district,” he explained recently. But at the time of his vote, Kirk cited “national security” considerations, “arguing that a modest carbon tax would spur development of domestic energy sources and reduce dependence on oil controlled by Saudi sheiks and Venezuelan dictators.”

Now, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is feeling the heat from the right-wing base as well, and is pulling a flip-flop of his own. The Chicago Daily Observer reports that Steele is withdrawing his support from Kirk:

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele has withdrawn his sole endorsement for Mark Kirk for the U. S. Senate, recognizing that the candidacy of Patrick Hughes has drawn major support from Illinois Republicans: thus Steele’s RNC is neutral…a distinct victory for Hughes.

Michael Steele has reportedly withdrawn his sole endorsement for Illinois Representative Mark Kirk in his bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Roland Burris, according to the Chicago Daily Observer.

The Observer article doesn't reveal where it learned the information, and RNC officials contend that Steele never officially endorsed Kirk's candidacy.

The Observer article is "blatantly false," said a RNC spokeswoman.

"Congressman Kirk is an exceptional candidate and is clearly the frontrunner in this race," RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told NBC. "This is a targeted race we plan to win and once Kirk wins the primary we will be fully engaged."