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Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has sought to reassure party activists that the GOP will be prepared for November’s elections after his chief of staff’s resignation.

Mike Leavitt, the RNC’s deputy chief of staff for external communications, will replace Ken McKay, whose departure as chief of staff was announced Monday. A few hours after that move, another key Steele political ally said his firm was cutting ties with the RNC.

Steele e-mailed all 168 RNC members Monday evening to tell them of McKay’s departure and accepted responsibility for some embarrassing headlines that have come out of the party lately. He guaranteed party activists and state party leaders that he is the right person to lead the GOP into the November midterm elections.

“Just as everyday Americans have entrusted the RNC with their money and their hopes for a better country, so also, you have entrusted me with the stewardship of this organization to make those hopes a reality,” Steele wrote in an e-mail that CNN obtained.

“I take this grave responsibility seriously. Leadership requires that any distractions from our most serious mission be addressed immediately and decisively,” he wrote.

“Leadership requires that I can safely assure you, our donors, and the American people that our mission is what drives every dollar we spend, every phone call we make, every e-mail we send and every event we organize. Recent events have called that assurance into question and the buck stops with me. That is why I have made this change in my management team and why I am confident about going forward to November with renewed focus and energy.”

But Curt Anderson, who helped engineer Steele’s victory as RNC chairman in 2009, said in an e-mail that his political strategy firm, OnMessage Inc., was stepping aside after McKay’s resignation.

“Ken McKay’s departure is a huge loss for the Republican Party. Ken steered the party through very successful elections last fall that have given us tremendous momentum,” Anderson wrote. “He’s a great talent. Given our firm’s commitments to campaigns all over the country, we have concluded it is best for us to step away from our advisory role at the RNC. We have high personal regard for the chairman and always have; we wish him well.”

McKay came to the RNC after working for Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri.

Critics have charged that Steele lacks the leadership to oversee the GOP’s national political organization. He has been criticized for his use of private jets and limousines as Republicans head into the midterm elections with less money than Democrats. The House and Senate campaign committees rely on the national parties to help fund efforts in the midterm election years.

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Article courtesy cnn.com

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