MARK THIS DATE ON YOUR CALENDARS
Wow -- a whole article on friction among the GOP presidential candidates, and it takes up a whopping two columns on page A20 of today's New York Times.
...Within the small circle of contenders, Mr. Romney has become the most disliked....
"Never get into a wrestling match with a pig," Senator John McCain said in New Hampshire this month after reporters asked him about Mr. Romney. "You both get dirty, and the pig likes it."
Mike Huckabee's pugilistic campaign chairman, Ed Rollins, appeared to stop just short of threatening Mr. Romney with physical violence at one point.
"What I have to do is make sure that my anger with a guy like Romney, whose teeth I want to knock out, doesn't get in the way of my thought process," Mr. Rollins said.
Savor it. Wallow in it. Because this will probably be the first and last time the mainstream press deigns to notice that people other than Democrats say nasty things to one another.
With so much attention recently on the sniping between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama on the Democratic side, the almost visceral scorn directed at Mr. Romney by his rivals has been overshadowed.
Uh, maybe if you actually told us about it before now, it might not be overshadowed in quite the same way.
Oh, and by the way, the Times's explanation for the animosity seems to be that all the other candidates are just jealous -- does that sound like your mom, or what?
Mr. Romney's campaign contends that the hostility is driven by the fact that he has aggressively sought to win the early primaries, setting himself up as the chief antagonist, first, to Mr. Huckabee in Iowa and then to Mr. McCain in New Hampshire.
Mr. Romney continues to be a mountain in the paths of both men, as well as Rudolph W. Giuliani, to the nomination.
A spokesman for the Romney campaign, Kevin Madden, said, "I think it's largely driven by the fact that everybody's taught to tackle the guy on the field with the ball." ...
A senior adviser to Mr. Romney, Ronald C. Kaufman, pointed to his vast personal fortune and upstart status in the political world as breeding resentment.
"They think he didn't pay his dues," said Mr. Kaufman, who argued that Mr. Romney had done so by working tirelessly in his campaign.
Remember this, too, because if Romney wins the nomination, especially if his opponent is Hillary Clinton, the press is going to try to turn him into a hero -- specifically, the aggressive, cocky, restless, buccaneer, I-don't-care-whose-feathers-get-ruffled takeover-artist hero of a thousand CEO-porn articles that have appeared in the business press since the 1980s. It won't be quite as satisfying as the war-hero narrative they'd like to write for McCain, or the dust-covered-avenging-angel-of-9/11 narrative that would have been in the works for Giuliani, or the reluctant-slow-talkin'-quiet-man narrative that would have been cooked up for Thompson, but it'll get a lot of journalists' testosterone flowing nonetheless. (I can already picture the cover of Time or Newsweek -- or both -- just after Romney clinches: a smiling, jut-jawed victor in white shirt and tie, reaching out to give a firm, manly handshake to a supporter, over the words CLOSING THE DEAL.)