Ever wonder why Ron Paul, the anti-establishment Republican, the hater of “ObamaCare”, the darling of hard-core conservatives and free-market libertarians as well as those progressives who actually think he means what he says about upholding the Constitution, hasn’t laid a glove on Mitt “RomneyCare” Romney since the start of the primaries?
Ever wonder why Ron Paul has, in fact, gone out of his way recently to defend Mitt Romney, as he did with Romney’s “I’m not concerned about the very poor” comment and Romney’s Bain Capitol work — and instead criticized Newt Gingrich, who for the past month and a half has been Romney’s strongest rival, over both issues?
Well, there’s this:
With Paul still in the race, it becomes much harder for whatever other non-Romney candidate might emerge, because the anti-Romney vote is suddenly split in two.
If Paul can continue to take 15 or 20 percent of the vote — or even just 10 percent — in these contests, the threshold of victory for Romney in that three-way race is much lower than it would be in a head-to-head race.
And the more Romney keeps finishing first, the more it will be clear that he’s the presumptive nominee, which will probably only increase the margin of his victories. At that point, it will likely be impossible for the non-Romney candidate to continue to fund and run a real campaign.
Remember 2008, when Mike Huckabee seemed to be sticking around even as the race was pretty clearly coming down to Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)? Huckabee’s continued presence in that race — particularly on Super Tuesday — similarly split the anti-McCain vote and probably ruined any chance Romney had of overtaking the frontrunner.
This time, Romney could very well be on the winning side of that equation.
And there’s this:
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.
The Romney-Paul alliance is more than a curious connection. 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.
Romney’s aides are “quietly in touch with Ron Paul,” according to a Republican adviser who is in contact with the Romney campaign and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss its internal thinking. The two campaigns have coordinated on minor things, the adviser said — even small details, such as staggering the timing of each candidate’s appearance on television the night of the New Hampshire primary for maximum effect.
What does Ron Paul get out of it? Not much, apparently:
I don’t know if this is true, but some of the facts are well-known, and if it’s true in any measure, the people who are supporting Ron Paul will be asked to shuffle across the convention floor to support Mitt Romney, not in exchange for the Vice Presidency, and not even for a cabinet posting, but for a speech for Paul and his Senator son in prime-time during the Republican National convention. Ron Paul supporters should know that this is the extent of the goal of this entire campaign, and that Mitt Romney has designs on their support. This is the reason that throughout these debates, and throughout the campaigns, Ron Paul hasn’t run one negative ad against Romney, and hasn’t even ruffled Mitt’s feathers in any of the debates. He has a strategic alliance, and he’s willing to carry out this charade in order to get a speaking platform for he and his son.
This leads me to several questions I have long suspected I would have to ask of the folks who have with such vigor and diligence supported Ron Paul, through thick and thin, and against the taunts of most of the other campaigns or candidates. Is that what you Paul supporters have been angling to achieve? Will you put down your Paul signs and pick up Romney placards instead? Is this the ultimate meaning of your money bombs, your poll-slamming, and all the other activities in which you have participated in support of Ron Paul’s agenda? How much influence do you now think Paul will wield in a Mitt Romney administration? Do you think Romney will legalize drugs? What about the military and foreign aid budgets? What of the commitment to the Constitution? What becomes of eliminating the Federal Reserve? What will you do when you discover that not only has your candidate undercut you, but that all he managed for your trouble were twenty-four dollars worth of costume conservatism?
There you go.