*In damage control mode, GOP national chairman Michael Steele on Saturday sought to quell the furor over his management of the Republican National Committee by acknowledging errors and vowing to learn from them.

“I’m the first here to admit that I’ve made mistakes, and it’s been incumbent on me to take responsibility to shoulder that burden, make the necessary changes and move on,” Steele told GOP activists and party leaders, drawing a standing ovation.

“The one mistake we cannot make this November is to lose,” he added, and the crowd cheered in agreement.

Saturday’s speech to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference was Steele’s first public appearance since the disclosure of questionable spending – including a $2,000 tab at a sex-themed California night club – resulted in top advisers cutting ties with him and North Carolina’s state party chief calling for his resignation.

Normally a bombastic showman, Steele struck a contrite tone before the supportive audience in the half-full hotel ballroom. He did not address the specific complaints. And even though he acknowledged his errors, he also blamed others.

“We can’t coast into the majority, nor can we assume it’s a sure thing. The liberal media are looking for any possible alternative narrative to tell,” Steele said. “They are looking for those distractions, and Lord knows I’ve provided a few.” He added: “The Democrats also know that they have some explaining to do, and they’d love nothing more than for us to keep pointing fingers.”

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