In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Solving The Steele Mystery: Why Did He Cancel On ABC?

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Newscom / Bill Clark

The publicist's explanation was that Steele "was called into an emergency meeting at the RNC," said Emily Lenzner, an ABC spokeswoman who also referred us to the publicist, who hasn't returned several calls.

Steele had the time to appear on Laura Ingraham's radio show between 11 and noon, just before the publicist canceled. On the show he said he would like to be governor of Maryland.

We've been cataloging Steele's travails for months, the latest of which is fallout because key Republicans weren't aware of his book. Steele told Ingraham he wrote the book before becoming chairman.

There also is frustration that he's mismanaged funds and is distracting by making numerous gaffes such as saying he didn't think the Republicans could win back the House this fall.

Several Hill aides have criticized him and today a former RNC official said it would be best if Steele is ousted soon.

"If we get rid of this guy now it's great for us," the official told TPMDC. "Let's shed him now, get someone who can raise money and get the party in a stronger position."

The official said in the 11 months until the election the RNC would have "plenty of time" to shore up a strong party and be victorious in the fall.

"I don't think that's true if this guy hangs around," the official said.

What's more, conservatives are fuming that Steele suggested in an interview he didn't "seek" the chairman position. He campaigned vehemently for the position and only won the spot after several ballots and once top contenders endorsed him.

Additional reporting by Rachel Slajda.