Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reacts to the audience during a break as Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, walks across the stage in the background during a Republican presidential candidate debate at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, N.H., Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
By Eric Schulzke
Rick Santorum had a point during Wednesday night’s debate when he said, “You have to ask Congressman Paul and Gov. Romney what they’ve got going together. Their commercials look a lot alike and so do their attacks.”
What really got everyone buzzing was Paul’s devasating slam on Santorum, when moderator John King asked Paul why he labeled Santorum a fake in recent ad. “Because he’s a fake,” Paul said, as he laughed and then objected to Santorum’s excuses for voting for legislation he opposed and then offering to repeal it.
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham had a meeting of the minds with Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday, and both agreed a conspiracy was in play.
Joe Scarborough on MSNBC is convinced there’s something going on, as was his guest, Mark McKinnon, who advised both the George W. Bush and John McCain campaigns.
“What’s the deal here?” Scarborough asked McKinnon. “You know there’s either a spoken or unspoken deal between Mitt Romney (and Ron Paul). This is the sort of thing nobody in the media likes to talk about but everybody in the game knows is going on. I mean, is Ron Paul hoping that his son gets a job in the cabinet? Is he hoping his son is going to be the VP nominee? What’s going on here, because there’s a deal between these guys.”
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey doubts that anything overt has been said. “So why is Paul attacking Santorum instead of Romney? Paul and Romney have a long-standing friendship, but don’t forget that Santorum went after Paul on foreign policy in numerous debates. I’d call this more of a personal choice on Paul’s part rather than a conspiracy, in the absence of better evidence.”
You don’t need to imagine a conspiracy to see an alliance, says John Hayward a Human Events. “As a matter of political tactics, Paul – who has openly stated that he doesn’t expect to actually win the nomination — has good reason to go after the current Alpha Not-Romney.”
It will be interesting to watch what happens when and if Hayward’s observation begins to dawn on Ron Paul’s legions. Do they turn on to Romney as an acceptable alternative? Or do they do they turn off altogether? And how long do they remain in denial about Paul’s actual intent in the race (which is certainly to advance an agenda but just as certainly not to advance to the White House)?