Embattled Steele Abruptly Cancels Interview

Posted January 8, 2010 at 11:45am

Under fire from top donors and Congressional Republicans, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Friday abruptly canceled a scheduled noon interview with ABC News — the network that has played host to some of Steele’s more controversial statements.

Steele had been scheduled for an appearance on “Top Line— with Rick Klein, but after confirming his noon appearance at 11:15 a.m. with Klein, Steele suddenly backed out 15 minutes later, according to Klein’s Twitter feed.

A number of Steele’s more memorable public gaffes have occurred on ABC. For instance, in a November interview Steele warned moderates that “we’ll come after you— if they eschew the party’s conservative principles. And in an ABC News Radio interview on Thursday, Steele attacked his Republican critics. “I’m telling them and I’m looking them in the eye and say I’ve had enough of it. If you don’t want me in the job, fire me. But until then, shut up. Get with the program or get out of the way,— Steele said.

Steele’s cancellation of the latest ABC interview came as Steele was facing mounting criticism for his recent book tour, and the fact that he had not warned other party leaders that he was even writing the book.

Two GOP sources confirmed that Steele failed to tell a single member of Republican Congressional leadership about the release of the book, titled “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda.—

“No one in the leadership had a clue this was coming. This guy thinks he’s leading, but he has become radioactive to the point nobody in their right mind would follow him,— said one GOP aide. “His self-interested maneuvering could easily be perceived to be the actions of someone who is thinking of running for president.—

But despite House and Senate Republican frustration with the RNC chairman, one GOP operative said it was unlikely Steele would have to leave his two-year term early.

“Maybe he’ll only be a one-term chairman … but he is going to be the chairman [this cycle],— the operative said.