Jones can insist all he wants, as he does here, that his letter this week encouraging Speaker candidates to drop out lest they bring shame to the caucus wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, but Shep’s right. That sort of admonition typically isn’t offered publicly unless there’s a good reason for it. It’d be like if an NFL player published an open letter reminding everyone that coaches shouldn’t bet against their own teams. That goes without saying, unless and until it needs saying.

Tim Huelskamp acknowledged to Steve Malzberg today (skip to 2:45 here) that rumors of an affair have dogged McCarthy for awhile, although of course he couldn’t say if they’re true. Erick Erickson claims that a “prominent conservative activist/philanthropist” has sent at least two mass e-mails over the past few days to members of Congress and other notable conservatives like Mike Huckabee referencing this story about Walter Jones’s letter and encouraging McCarthy to drop out. The second e-mail was sent at 8:11 a.m. ET, per Erickson. McCarthy dropped out of the race a little after noon. Maybe that’s a coincidence, but given the variety of people who’ve been pushing this rumor lately — here’s another, apparently a DHS employee — either McCarthy’s the victim of a nasty, widely coordinated character smear or there really is something sketchy going on. He’s denied any wrongdoing. I wonder which major paper will be the first out with a story addressing whether that’s true or not.

Update: Good point by Erickson: