I just finished participating in a hit job conference call conducted by former Rep. Susan Molinari and former Sen. Jim Talent.

Rep. Molinari characterized Newt’s leadership style as “leadership by chaos.” Later in her remarks, she blamed Newt for Bob Dole’s defeat in 1996 and for House Republicans losing 5 seats in 1998.

When the NYTimes’ Ashley Parker asked if Rep. Molinari was actually blaming Newt for Dole’s defeat, Rep. Molinari quickly backpedaled, saying that turnout should’ve been better than it was. It’s interesting that she blamed that on Newt, not the utterly unexciting Bob Dole.

It’s interesting that they blamed the 1998 defeat on Newt, not on the fact that Congress, House and Senate both, didn’t get much accomplished that term.

When a reporter said that the last they’d heard from Rep. Molinari and Sen. Talent was when Newt was riding high in the polls, Rep. Molinari and Sen. Talent tried explaining that it’s just coincidence. When the reporter asked if their reappearance wasn’t an admission that Mitt’s losing ground in South Carolina, Rep. Molinari and Sen. Talent insisted that they were just worried that Republicans would lose on all levels if Newt became the nominee.

Rep. Molinari and Sen. Talent insisted, too, that Newt wasn’t the right person for the job of leading the Republican Party and “the conservative movement.” I’ve got a good memory and I don’t recall either Jim Talent’s name or Susan Molinari’s name being tied to the conservative movement.

Rep. Molinari and Sen. Talent refused to say even one complimentary thing about Newt during the entire conference call. Within 15 minutes of the call starting, it was over.

The talking points were clear: Newt’s unreliable, Mitt’s a steady leader with lots of conservative accomplishments and Mitt’s the only one prepared to lead the Republican Party.

The reality doesn’t match Mitt’s chanting points. Mitt doesn’t have “lots of conservative accomplishments.” The TEA Party isn’t interested in being led back to the pre-TEA Party go-along-to-get-along GOP.

The question that’s lingering about the conference call is simple: If Mitt’s a superior leader, why isn’t he highlighting his conservative accomplishments while in public office? If he’s that superior, he should ignore Newt and just stay positive, reminding people of his accomplishments.

That isn’t what happened. Mitt trotted out his attack dogs to attack Newt, quite possibly because he’s worried about losing South Carolina.

One thing that isn’t in question is this: Mitt’s on the defensive. He tried dealing with the hits in Monday’s debate but didn’t handle it well. Now, Mitt’s hinting that he might skip a debate or two in Florida. I wrote here that that won’t happen because the image of the supposed inevitable frontrunner hightailing it from the debate stage while his opponents turn up the heat would be devastating.

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One Response to “Molinari’s, Talent’s 10-minute hit job”

  • walter hanson says:

    I have a question for Senator Talent. If it was Newt’s fault that Dole lost in 1996 can we now blame Senator Talent for losing the Missouri senate seat in 2006 and allow us to have Obamacare?

    It seems that if Talent is an expert on what it takes to win an election he will be a current senator not a former senator.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

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