Former RNC chairman Michael Steele says GOP leadership can't move on so easily from Trump.
He said the GOP would much rather focus on the "bright, shiny" Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Trump left a deep stain on the GOP after the Capitol riot and by meeting Nick Fuentes, Steele said.
Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele says that while the Republican Party would like to move on from former President Donald Trump, it won't be easy to do.
Speaking on MSNBC on Wednesday, Steele said Republican leaders seemed eager to focus on other possible GOP presidential candidates for 2024, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"They want all of us at this point to fixate on, 'We're past Trump, we're no longer doing Trump," Steele said.
"Oh, Trump was bad. Oh, this bright, shiny object down in Florida. Let's focus on that in Gov. DeSantis," Steele said of the GOP and its narrative. "But I'm sorry, you don't get to wipe that stain off your clean white shirt that easily because that's a deep stain."
Steele referred to Trump's dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West as yet another stain.
"Embracing Fuentes was a deep stain. While you may not have done so directly, the leader of your party did," Steele added. "And as the head of your party and as a leader on the Hill or representing the party across the country at the state level, if you don't reject that, then that's you, baby."
Steele was the chairman of the RNC between 2009 and 2011. He is now a vocal critic of Trump and a commentator on MSNBC.
DeSantis has not announced his 2024 candidacy but is considered one of the GOP's leading candidates for the 2024 presidential ticket.
Trump, who declared his bid for the 2024 GOP ticket on November 15, received considerable backlash after dining with Fuentes at Mar-A-Lago on November 22. Fuentes marched in the 2017 white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, during which an avowed neo-Nazi drove his car into a group of counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring 35 other people.
Several GOP figures have blasted Trump for the dinner. On Friday, former GOP governor Chris Christie called the meeting "another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump" and a sign that Trump is an "untenable general election candidate." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday also slammed Trump for meeting with Ye and Fuentes, saying there is "no room" in the GOP for white supremacy.
A spokesperson at Trump's post-presidential press office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.