Thursday, February 23, 2012

Santorum suggests Romney-Paul conspiracy

Byron York on the post-debate scene last night.

[Santorum] took a lot of attacks from Romney and a few from Paul, and he noticed that Paul and Romney didn't seem to go after each other. When it was all over, and Santorum met reporters, he didn't try to hide what he was thinking.

"You have to ask Congressman Paul and Gov. Romney what they've got going together," Santorum said. "Their commercials look a lot alike, and so do their attacks."

"They've got something going on?" a reporter asked Santorum.

"You tell me," Santorum said.

Santorum's aides have long suspected that Romney and Paul have some sort of deal by which they attack other candidates but not each other. "Clearly there is a tag-team strategy between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney," top Santorum strategist John Brabender told reporters after the debate.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post's Amy Gardner wrote about the Romney-Paul relationship.

Despite deep differences on a range of issues, Romney and Paul became friends in 2008, the last time both ran for president.

So did their wives, Ann Romney and Carol Paul. The former Massachusetts governor compliments the Texas congressman during debates, praising Paul’s religious faith during the last one, in Jacksonville, Fla. Immediately afterward, as is often the case, the Pauls and the Romneys gravitated toward one another to say hello.

.... It is a strategic partnership: for Paul, an opportunity to gain a seat at the table if his long-shot bid for the presidency fails; for Romney, a chance to gain support from one of the most vibrant subgroups within the Republican Party.

.... But there is also a growing recognition that the congressman plans to stay in the contest over the long term — and that accommodating him and his supporters could help unify Republican voters in the general election against President Obama.

“Ron Paul wants a presence at the convention,” the adviser said — and Romney, if he is the nominee, would grant it.

Indeed, that's generally what you hear. That the alliance is built on a fairly warm personal relationship coupled with mutual political ambition. That's an unshakable combination.