Are Ron Paul and MItt Romney allied? Or is a certain leftist blog suggesting that merely to provoke more dissension in the Republican rank and file? The evidence is sketchy at best.
Why Ron Paul and Mitt Romney might be allies
First to suggest that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are allies was Rick Santorum. On February 23, after the last CNN debate, Santorum complained that Paul and Romney had attacked him in “tag team” fashion. (Source: Toby Harnden of Mail Online.)
Clearly there’s a tag team strategy between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. For all I know, Mitt Romney might be considering Ron Paul as his running mate. Clearly there is now an alliance between those two and you saw that certainly in the debate.
Santorum returned to that theme the next day, according to The Daily Caller. His evidence? Ron Paul ran attack ads against Santorum in Michigan, one of two States (the other is Arizona) that will have primaries tomorrow (February 28). And yet Ron Paul made no campaign stops in Michigan. More broadly, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have each attacked Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich mercilessly. But never once has either candidate directly attacked the other. (At least, not in the last few months. But Ron Paul did attack Mitt Romney in June of last year, over American policy in Afghanistan.)
No less than The New York Times has speculated that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney might be allies. But as Jim Galloway of The Atlantic Journal-Constitutionobserves, all that the Times has shown is that the two camps are more than usually civil and friendly to one another.
Michael Mernoli of The Charlotte Observerquoted Ron Paul’s son, Rand (the junior Senator from Kentucky), as saying that he “would be honored” to have Mitt Romney consider him as his running mate. So perhaps Ron Paul is looking for a Vice-Presidential spot, not for himself, but for his son.
Catalina Camia of USA Today also believes in a Ron Paul/Mitt Romney partnership. As evidence, she offered a “study” of twenty debates that ThinkProgress.org released today. That organ says again that Ron Paul has never attacked Mitt Romney once. (But what do they call Ron Paul’s performance in the June 14, debate, in a clip they themselves uploaded to their own YouTube channel?) Pat Cunningham of The Rockford Register-Starcited that same “study.” (Ryan Witt, at Examiner.com, “examined” much the same evidence.) But Brian Doherty at Reasondisputes ThinkProgress on this and cited two more video clips of Ron Paul specifically criticizing something that Mitt Romney had said.
What Ron Paul and Mitt Romney might hope to gain
Former Governor Mitt Romney at a townhall in Sun Lakes, Arizona. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License
If Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have formed a “tag team” against the other two, each might have a motive beyond simple friendship. Romney lacks the support of young people and some Tea Party voters that Paul has. Ron Paul wants to “broker” the convention. If Paul can do that, he can demand the right to speak before the delegates and set up a lasting movement in the Republican Party for the principles he holds dear. (Charles Krauthammer suggested this.) He might even be able to demand a Cabinet post, perhaps that of Secretary of the Treasury.
The problem, other than the examples of Ron Paul attacking Mitt Romney that ThinkProgress ignores (or makes light of), is this. For Ron Paul to partner with Mitt Romney in this way would be utterly out of character. It would be the sort of back-room deal that he has always roundly condemned. And Mitt Romney might understand something that a liberal might not: Ron Paul is not a conservative, but a libertarian. So perhaps Romney
Is ThinkProgress lying?
To repeat, ThinkProgress ignores at least three examples in which Ron Paul has attacked Mitt Romney, and in public, since the campaign began. Nor were these oversights; one of those examples comes directly from ThinkProgress’ own channel on YouTube.
Why might they be lying? To try to induce Ron Paul’s followers to:
Form a third party, or
Set up a machine for fifty-one write-in campaigns.
No one in the history of Presidential elections has ever set up a write-in campaign for Presidential electors. A political party always files a slate of elector-candidates in each of the fifty States, and the District of Columbia. No write-in candidate could hope to compel a State Department of State to appoint electors with a pledge to vote for that candidate, no matter how many votes he got. But CNAV has the direct experience of conversing with a few of Ron Paul’s more obstreperous supporters. They insist that if the Republican Party does not nominate Dr. Paul, they will write his name in anyway. And they do not care about any rules that forbid them to elect Presidential electors in Ron Paul’s name. So they say.
Such people are a minority of Dr. Paul’s supporters. And Dr. Paul will never form a third party. He will do nothing to put his son’s career in jeopardy. He can probably count on most of his supporters to understand this.
Both candidates have denied that they are partners in anything. True, Mitt Romney has not attacked Ron Paul in his advertisements. Then again, no one has, so that is inconclusive.
So are Ron Paul and Mitt Romney partners? Probably not. But they might still strike a deal at the Convention in late summer.