An unusually good question coming from a halfwit, never mind her suggestion that Limbaugh would shunt this tip off onto a newspaper with 1/20th the audience he has and then sit idly by waiting for it to be published while Maverick ran the table against Fred and Mitt in the primaries. TNR says Times reporter Jim Rutenberg got the tip about Iseman in November. McCain was polling in the low- to mid-teens at the time and didn’t start to really break out until New Year’s. Who would have been trying to sandbag him that early? ABC says Team Mitt was keenly interested in seeing it come out but doubtless all of McCain’s opponents were. Quote:

On Thursday, while no one would allow their name to be published, several former advisers lamented the timing of the story, one suggesting, “If this piece had run before New Hampshire, McCain would have lost. If it had run before Florida, he would have lost.”

The fact that Romney’s camp knew about it but didn’t succeed in forcing it out there through some media outlet means either they weren’t pushing as hard as they should have or, for all the bluster about Mitt being a hardball campaigner, means there was obviously a line he wasn’t willing to cross. Behar’s question remains, though: If this story’s been circulating for awhile and McCain’s nomination really is the end of conservatism as we know it, why didn’t someone on the right kneecap him with it before it was too late?