Over the last few months, The New York Times and The Washington Post have reported on the “strategic partnership” between Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and anti-Israel Representative Ron Paul (R-TX). This week, The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein and Slate’s Dave Weigel both noted that the Paul campaign’s latest negative ad is directed at Romney’s main rival—former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)—despite the claims in the ad applying to both Santorum and Romney. Many have speculated that Romney has been courting Paul in order to ensure a unified Republican Party if he receives the nomination. Stein also noted regarding the Romney-Paul relationship:
The Texas Republican has refused to attack Romney during televised debates. He’s also devoted a considerable portion of his vast campaign resources to television ads that undermine Romney’s opponent of the week, from Rick Perry, to Newt Gingrich, to his latest foe, Rick Santorum.
Paul and Romney are reportedly friends, but that seemed like only half the story. The most logical explanation for the alliance was that Romney had promised Paul some sort of future role, either at the GOP convention or even in his administration. Some also speculated that Romney might have plans for Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
Lately though, there has been speculation that Romney could select Paul to be his running mate. The Daily Mail’s Toby Harnden wrote after last night’s debate:
After tonight’s debate, in which Ron Paul and Mitt Romney repeatedly attacked Rick Santorum over his 16-year record in Congress, the former US Senator for Pennsylvania hinted that something nefarious was going on.
‘You have to ask Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they’ve got going together,’ Santorum told reporters in the spin room in Mesa, Arizona. ‘Their commercials look a lot alike and so do their attacks.’
Santorum’s top strategist John Brabender went even further, charging that the two men had ‘joined forces’ and were coordinating attacks against his man.
‘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.’
Senator Rand Paul first discussed his higher aspirations at the beginning of this year. He said he wouldn’t close the door on being a Vice Presidential candidate. After a speech in Louisville today, Paul held that door firmly open, saying he wants to be part of the national debate.
Paul’s name has swirled as a possible pick that would give Romney points with the Tea Party.
When asked directly what he would say if Romney made the offer, Paul tried to punt.
‘I don’t know if I can answer that question, but I can say it would be an honor to be considered,’ he said.
The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis wrote:
Of course, this could be much ado about nothing - just a politician answering a question. On the other hand, it is sure to spark more speculation that some sort of deal may be in the works between the Romney and Paul camps. It’s not as if Ron Paul’s campaign hasn’t stoked speculation. As the Dallas Morning News reported, Paul’s national campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, recently said: ‘Any Republican should have Rand Paul on his short list.’
On the surface, tapping Paul as veep might not make sense. But conservatives are refusing to go along and eat the dog food with Romney - and adding Rand Paul to the ticket would fire conservatives up - and ensure that Ron Paul drops any plans to launch a 3rd party challenge.
And just imagine if Romney arrives at the GOP convention needing some of Paul’s delegates to win the nomination?
It’s not an absurd idea.
The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh observed that the elder Paul—by being quiescent and cooperating with Romney and the mainstream of the GOP—could be paving the way for a future presidential run by his son:
There is only one politician whom Paul regularly praises in his speeches-a man he coyly refers to as a ‘senator from Kentucky.’ If Paul sees a future for himself in the Republican Party, it is through his son Rand, who might have an easier time than his father in attracting traditional conservatives to his cause. (During his campaign for the Senate, for example, Rand Paul declined to rule out using force to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.) Unlike most politicians on the verge of retirement, Paul can’t accurately claim that he has nothing to lose by breaking with the party that has been his home for all but one of his years in politics. Hope for his son’s prospects-and a disinclination to put him in an awkward position-might be enough to keep Paul from ending his political career with another third-party campaign. If he split the vote, indirectly helping to reëlect [sic] Obama, it might be a long time before Republicans were willing to get behind anyone named Paul.
More information on why Ron Paul matters is available here.
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