The moderate wing of the G.O.P. is a "very, very small group...if they exist at all," Times political profiler Mark Leibovich confidently proclaimed in a segment near the end of Friday's edition of Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show.
Left-wing host Maddow interviewed Leibovich on his impending cover story for the Times Sunday Magazine, "The First Senator From the Tea Party?" featuring a picture of Republican insurgent Senate candidate Marco Rubio.
Besides profiling Rubio and his expected primary opponent, moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, Leibovich attended a tea party in Orlando which he mined for anecdotes of heckling, bullying and racism as well as "contempt for the president" (That's a sin the Times never fretted over when left-wing anti-war rallies compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler).
Host Rachel Maddow: "Very briefly, Mark. Are you seeing any signs of a counterrevolution when Jim Greer left with that parting shot at the tea partiers? Anybody that you met in your reporting in Florida for this story think is going to be cheering him on?"
New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich: "I think there's going to be a silent - I don't if it's a majority - but there's certainly a group of people within the, quote unquote, 'Republican establishment' that Charlie Crist is, I think, banking on to be there for him, you know, nine, 10 months from now. But you know, frankly, right now, the moderate wing of the Republican Party in Florida and across the country is a very, very small group. So, you know, if they exist at all, they`re pretty quiet at this point. So we'll see."
The Times has been marking the death of moderates in the Republican party since at least 1996. Which of course is why the party nominated stalwart conservatives like Bob Dole and John McCain to run for president.