Was it good-natured ribbing by John Heilemann, or unvarnished venom? On today's With All Due Respect, Republican Dan Senor made the case--at length--as to why Paul Ryan would make a great candidate to oppose Hillary Clinton. But Senor then proceeded to claim that Ryan would not seek the nomination because the Speaker doesn't think it's "appropriate."
Heilemann responded with a flurry of "lying" accusations: "stop telling your lies on television . . . stop with the lying . . . lyin' Dan Senor."
Judging by the smirk on Senor's face, I'm actually going to cut Heilemann slack on this one. I suspect Senor loves the idea of Ryan as candidate, but knows that the worst thing that Ryan could do at this point would be seen to be openly seeking the nomination. So Senor was seeking to sustain the polite fiction of Ryan's supposed disinterest.
Even if Heilemann were being facetious, can you imagine him so forcefully accusing a Dem operative of lying?
DAN SENOR: Let me start by saying, I think Hillary Clinton is an incredibly weak general election candidate running against just about any Republican, with the exception of the two that we have standing left right now. If you go down the list of all the people who were in the race, or have thought about running -- her unfavorable numbers are like not that much better than Trump's -- so the contrast with a guy like Ryan, who everyone acknowledges is a unifying force, it's very hard to demonize him.
He does not look like a crazy insurgent on our side. And I just think he's regarded, even among people who disagree with him, as a thoughtful guy. He's constructive. He's trying to get stuff done. He's not tarnished with issues like trustworthiness and whatnot. So I think he would be a great contrast. As I think many of the others: I think Kasich would be a good contrast, I think Rubio, I think Walker. Many of these guys would be a good contrast to Hillary. He won't do it because he does not think that it is appropriate for him. He right now is a check on the insanity. He's a check on the insanity, a force against the insanity, and for him to pull out of the Speakership and run --
JOHN HEILEMANN: Stop telling your lies on television.
MARK HALPERIN: We'll see you in Cleveland [Ed.: meaning Senor will change his tune when he gets to the convention.]
HEILEMANN: Stop with the lying!
SENOR: It's not -- you sound like Donald Trump!
HEILEMANN: We'll let you come back and lie more in a minute. Just stay right there. Lyin' Dan Senor.