Later today, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign will host a Newt Gingrich-bashing conference call with two surrogates, former Rep. Susan Molinari and former Sen. Jim Talent.
Molinari's dislike for Gingrich spans more than a decade. She served with him when he was House Speaker. She saw, in her words, how destructive and egotistical he is.
"Incredibly smart and pragmatic, he is at his best when he is building a team. He is at his worst and most self-destructive when he swells with his own sense of invulnerability and moves to the front and center," Molinari wrote in her book. "Representative Mom: Balancing Budgets, Bill and Baby in the U.S. Congress."
Molinari's beef with Gingrich has a deeply personal aspect as well. Her husband, former Rep. Bill Paxon, was a top leader in the coup to oust Gingrich in 1997. It failed. Some blame Republican leader Dick Armey, now the leader of tea-party organizer FreedomWorks, for selling out his fellow plotters when he learned that Paxon would be speaker and not him.
Paxon mysteriously soon left his post in Congress. It was never clear why
"There is a concerted effort to take Bill Paxon out before he becomes a bigger threat to Gingrich than he is," Hill reporter Sandy Hume reported at the time, according to this Arianna Huffington. "Paxon and Armey haven't been on speaking terms since the coup."
Soon after, Hume, son of the Fox commentator, committed suicide.
About the same time, rumors surfaced that Hume and Paxon had been involved in a a gay affair. Some (namely MSNBC's Joe Scarborough) blamed Armey for leaking the information to stop Paxon. Some blamed Gingrich, since he benefitted most. Some blamed them both for the rumor.
Because South Florida is New York's sixth borough, word of the Paxon-Gingrich-Hume imbroglia has been the subject of whispers by some political operatives tied to the Empire State (Paxon was a Buffalo rep.). It's almost impossible to know just what specifically happened all those years ago, but there's clearly deep scar tissue here that gainsays a simple political narrative that will unfold on a 30 minute conference call.