**UPDATE: Romney camp responds to Hot Air
**UPDATE II: Matt Lewis added the Romney camp’s reponse to his story but stands by his original report.
**UPDATE III: Red State’s Moe Lane has more in an update of his own: “the queue is the Romney campaign’s problem.”
“Isn’t it pretty stupid politics,” the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis asks. That’s obviously a rhetorical question, and not one motivated by sour grapes. Lewis wasn’t on the call:
As you probably heard, some Mitt Romney surrogates hosted a conference call today to attack Newt Gingrich. Because Romney is attempting to win a Republican primary — and cast Newt Gingrich as unacceptable to conservatives — you probably assume that center-right journalists or conservative bloggers got to ask some questions, right?
Wrong. Here’s the list of reporters and media outlets who were permitted to ask questions:
JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS
MARK HALPERIN, TIME
LLOYD GROVE, THE DAILY BEAST
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, TPM
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES
PHIL RUCKER, WASHINGTON POST
Stupid isn’t the word here. You are trying to make the case you are more conservative than Newt Gingrich and you not only exclude Conservatives from questions but you take questions from flipping Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo? This is an insult to every conservative news outlet, new media site and blogger out there.
And people complained about the way Herman Cain treated friends, but perhaps the Romney Campaign doesn’t consider conservatives friends.
It’s important to emphasize that it wasn’t Governor Romney himself on the phone. Still, they were his surrogates.
The bigger problem for Romney here is how this feeds into a narrative he can no longer afford to step into. Fair or not, the former Governor’s conservative credentials are under scrutiny and the very last thing Republican primary voters want to see is a potential GOP candidate sucking up to the left-wing press. We not only see the MSM as the enemy (because they are), but we also watched in horror as John McCain was caught flat-footed time and again in 2008 when his former MSM “friends” turned on him.
If we’re going to defeat Obama in 2012, we must have a candidate who understands the MSM is every bit the foe Obama is.
Ironically enough (within the context of this story), something that’s aided Gingrich in his unexpected rise in the polls is his willingness to take on the media. What helped the Speaker stand out in debates that, at the time, focused on whoever the front-runner was, is that he’s not in the least shy when it comes to calling out moderators when he found their questions biased or inane. Was that message lost on the Romney campaign?
In their defense, though, we’re a mere 25 days away from Iowa and this was likely an honest mistake made by a busy campaign with a thousand things to do. But that’s not exactly comforting to those of us paying attention. With so much on the line, GOP primary voters aren’t all that interested in “intentions” when it comes to mistakes.
What we want are zero mistakes, zero distractions of this kind, and the continued reassurance that our candidate isn’t going to lose a tactical battle to an MSM that is cynically counting on fooling him into complacency.