At an off-the-record luncheon with nine reporters, including Dana Milbank. Who, come to think of it, has achieved near-sockpuppet status vis-a-vis Keith Olbermann.

Here’s what we know about the mystery candidate from Milbank’s piece:

He supports the Iraq war and opposes immediate withdrawal but thinks Bush bungled the peace and has failed to clearly explain our strategy.
He calls the response to Katrina “a monumental failure of government.”
He opposes federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
He disagrees with Bush’s Dubai ports deal.
He supports constitutional amendments to ban flag-burning and gay marriage.
He opposes a guest-worker program for illegals.

Geraghty reads the tea leaves and points an accusatory finger at Michael Steele. Is he right?

Steele supports the Iraq war and opposes immediate withdrawal but thinks Bush bungled the peace and has failed to clearly explain our strategy.
Steele calls the response to Katrina “an incredible failure of the government.”
Steele opposes federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Steele disagrees with Bush’s Dubai ports deal.
Steele supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Steele opposes a guest-worker program for illegals, at least until the border is secure.

Milbank also writes, “The source of the candidate’s anger — and his anxiety — is the Iraq war,” to such an extent that he doesn’t want Bush coming to the state to campaign for him. Coincidentally, Maryland’s most high-profile newspaper published a poll just a week ago linking Bush’s “striking unpopularity” in the state to Iraq.

Which means: (a) yeah, the mystery candidate is almost definitely Michael Steele, and (b) this is the worst blog scandal ever.

Tags: Maryland