Say it Ain't So: Ron Paul to Form Alliance with Mitt Romney?

| by Reason Foundation

By Brian Doherty

The Washington Post writes a story pushing the idea of a Paul and Romney alliance; there is some truth to this, though the story exaggerates it. 

The remaining candidates in the winnowed Republican presidential field are attacking one another with abandon, each day bringing fresh headlines of accusations and outrage.

But Mitt Romney and Ron Paul haven’t laid a hand on each other.

They never do.

It is factually incorrect that "they never do"--an early Ron Paul moneybomb was specifically framed around combatting Romney, Paul's campaign paid for and aired anti-Romney radio ads in Iowa leading up to the caucusues there. But it is true that Paul had spent less money and effort at specifically attacking the front-runner, so far, compared to how he's gone after Santorum and Gingrich

While covering the Paul campaign for my forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution, I picked up off-record hints that there was communication between the two camps and a likely realization that for both of them, clearing the field of the other competitors was more important than taking each other on directly, and that they both might need things from each other in a downfield race likely to be all about Romney v. Paul, along the lines of this from the Post story:

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.

Romney obviously gets to try to hold on to a portion of Paul's fan base in the general, if he wins the nomination, by not deliberately alienating Paul and his people. What might Paul get from not alienating Romney?

“Ron Paul wants a presence at the convention,” the adviser said — and Romney, if he is the nominee, would grant it.

What Paul and his supporters would demand, and what Romney would offer, are subjects of some speculation. One Paul adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk freely, said prime-time speaking slots for Paul and his son Rand, the junior senator from Kentucky, are obvious goals. On the policy front, Ron Paul’s priorities are reforming the Federal Reserve and reducing federal spending. So promises to audit the Fed and to tackle deficit reduction seriously could appease the congressman and his supporters, the adviser said.

The story is also good on explaining some of the specifics of Paul's fans strategy behind the scenes of wracking up big primary vote numbers:

To ensure that they are heard — not just now but after Election Day, too — Paul and his followers are working to gain a permanent foothold in the Republican Party nationwide. One state at a time, Paul’s supporters are seating themselves at county committee meetings, and standing for election as state officers and convention delegates, to make sure their candidate’s libertarian vision is taken into account....

In Reno, regional coordinator Wayne Terhune used a slide show on a recent weeknight to teach volunteers how to participate in a Republican precinct meeting to help Paul win delegates in the state’s caucuses on Saturday. He has tutored packed rooms at Denny’s as well as smaller crowds in the campaign’s Reno headquarters, located in a low-slung office building alongside the airport.

In a tiny conference room with a water cooler and two dogs on the floor, Terhune told the volunteers not to allow paper ballots out of their sight once votes take place — and to dress neatly and inconspicuously, so fellow Republicans won’t be disinclined to elect them as caucus delegates....

“You’ll nominate yourself,” Terhune told the room. “They’ll probably have you give your speech. Have a meeting a day ahead so all the Ron Paul people know who the other Ron Paul people are, so you can vote for them. Then you give a generic speech, and the non-Ron Paul people say, ‘Oh, he’s solid, I can vote for him.’ ”

Terhune also urged the volunteers to pull out their iPhones and record the proceedings on caucus night if party officials “don’t play by the rules.”

I discussed the friendly rivals joshing about whether it was going to be Romney-Paul or Paul-Romney last month in my after-New Hampshire wrap-up article.