TAMPA — Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele rolled through the Tampa Bay area Monday in a big red bus emblazoned with the words: "Need a job? Fire Pelosi."
Its midmorning stop: a rally at the Hillsborough County Republican Party Victory Office near downtown Tampa, where he urged a crowd of about 100 to elect Republicans to Congress to overcome Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority.
He briefly shared the stage with Mike Prendergast, who hopes to defeat Democrat Kathy Castor in the District 11 race in November, and Dennis Ross, who wants to replace Republican Adam Putnam, now running for agriculture commissioner.
"This is the new generation of Republican leadership," Steele said. "Your only requirement is to get them to win."
During his 15-minute speech, Steele focused on reining in government spending and entitlements, asking people in the crowd: "When you got up this morning, did you look in the mirror and say to yourself, 'All I want is to be dependent.' It's not in your DNA."
Steele encouraged people to knock on doors, make phone calls and wave signs to get Republicans elected.
The message resonated with those who came to see Steele, who is crisscrossing the country before the Nov. 2 election.
Toni Armstrong drove from Apollo Beach. She said she became politically active after losing her job as a computer consultant 18 months ago. She said she wants to see conservatives elected who will lower taxes so business owners can start hiring.
"They don't have a clue about what's going to happen next year with the taxes and health care," she said. "I don't blame them for not wanting to hire."
Tampa resident Harold Moore, 68, said over the years he has paid his taxes, mortgage, medical insurance and credit card bills. Now he said he is being asked to pay taxes to help people who haven't done that.
"The government is shifting the burden to the responsible," he said.
In St. Petersburg, the bus lumbered toward the Pier after 2 p.m. "I think that might be it! That's a big red bus!" said Betty Renfro, 70, who stood with Dee Byrne, 71, and Laural Snowden, 68, hefting Rubio signs and wearing T-shirts for state House candidate Larry Ahern.
Steele told about 75 supporters to "take this feeling" and "make it infectious."
"That energy, that passion, that fire, it's hotter than the heat here in Florida, and you need to take that and get it on the street. And when you do, guess what: We win, they lose," he said.
Asked how his bus tour compared with others, such as the conservative Tea Party Express, he said: "It's all complementary. I think every group out there, every individual out there, is identifying their own way to express their frustration with the debt, to express their anger with being ignored by the administration and the leadership in Washington. This is just one manifestation of that."