Rick Santorum is complaining about an alleged “deal” between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. After Wednesday’s GOP debate, where it appeared that Romney and Paul had agreed to a sort of political détente, Santorum said, “You have to ask Congressman Paul and Gov. Romney what they’ve got going together.” Santorum’s chief strategist, John Brabender, echoed his captain’s complaint by stating, “Clearly there is a tag-team strategy between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.”
Romney’s camp quickly responded that such allegations were “whiny silliness.” Whiny? Absolutely. Silliness? No.
It’s hard to believe that Romney and Paul don’t have some sort of agreement, at least unofficially, to not attack each other. During the 20 Republican debates so far, Paul and Romney have steered clear of seriously damaging each other. They have also repeatedly traded compliments on the campaign trail.
On February 1st, The Washington Post published an article about the political alliance between the two men. According to the article, Romney and Paul have been friends since the 2008 election cycle:
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.
As the Washington Post article also notes, the Romney-Paul alliance makes political sense for both camps. It allows Romney to avoid the wrath of Paul’s passionate supporters while possibly gaining favor with a group of activists and volunteers who Romney will need during the general election if he’s the GOP nominee. It also gives Romney an ally in his attack on Santorum, whose sudden rise has Team Romney scrambling. It gives Paul influence with Romney, the likely nominee. If Romney wins the nomination, Paul will be able to continue his campaign to reform the GOP from a position of power. As president, Romney might even appoint Paul to a cabinet position or promise to audit and reform the Federal Reserve.
Some are even speculating that Ron Paul is brokering a deal for his son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. John Hayward at Human Events reports:
A Romney-Paul ticket seems a bit unlikely, although it becomes more plausible if you substitute a different Paul. There has been speculation that Ron Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, might be on the vice presidential short list. Rand Paul recently said “it would be an honor to be considered.” Rand would presumably be able to bring a good deal of Ron’s support to the Romney ticket, and the 49-year-old Senator might be more content with spending four or eight years on the vice-presidential launch pad than his 76-year-old father.
The Romney-Paul alliance is not surprising in the slightest, despite the demurring of Team Santorum. The political benefits to both campaigns are overwhelming and obvious.
Remember, in “The Art of War” Sun Tzu said, “On intersecting ground, if you establish alliances you are safe, if you lose alliances you are in peril.” Romney, a venture capitalist, and Paul, a free-market missionary, seem to be well aware of Sun Tzu’s advice.
Thomas Grier is a third-year law student at The Ohio State University. A graduate of Arizona State University, Grier writes on constitutional law, politics and pro-growth policy.