Ron Paul and Romney deny plot to oust Santorum

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (L) and U.S Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) discuss a question during the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Florida January 26, 2012 (Reuters / Scott Audette)
Scrambling to stay in the race for the GOP nod, Rick Santorum is trying to take down two of his rivals with one radical allegation. According to the former senator, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are conspiring to kill what’s left of Santorum’s campaign.

Following a harsh campaign ad from the Ron Paul camp that called out Rick Santorum as a fake fiscal conservative, the Pennsylvania Senator is firing back with charges of his own. His allegations, however, are being analyzed by many people close to the contest as nothing but a last ditch attempt to dismantle the competition’s own chances.

Senator Santorum repeatedly claimed this week that two of his opponents are in cahoots and masterminding a back-room deal that would run their Republican rival out of the party’s race.

“The coordination that I felt at that debate the other night was pretty clear,” Santorum said while campaigning over the weekend. “I felt like the messages were being slipped behind my chair.”

It’s a charge that almost makes sense. As long you discount the fact that Romney and Ron Paul couldn’t be further from agreement on almost every issue.

Santorum, however, is saying a partnership between the politicians is being constructed to crush what’s left of his own campaign. Speaking over the weekend, the senator repeatedly raised questions about how Ron Paul has not waged any attack on Mitt Romney at any of the 20 GOP debates that have occurred this election season.

At a Tea Party rally in Saint Clair Shores, Michigan over the weekend, Santorum tried to take on Texas Congressman Ron Paul by complaining that the candidate has set his sights on the senator while failing to find any faults with Romney in campaign adds.

“He's not campaigning in Michigan, yet he's running ads in Michigan against me," Santorum told supporters in reference to Ron Paul.

"You just have to take a look at what his real objective is. If it's really going after trying to fundamentally change Washington, why is he being the wingman for Mitt Romney all throughout this campaign," he added. "So let's see who's calling who a fake."

Although Congressman Paul has since admitted that, no, he has not taken shots at Romney thus far, he refused allegation that the two were coordinating a team effort to dismantle Santorum. Instead, said Paul, he has only been continuing a campaign to cut down the chances that any of the other candidates have left. Romney has, for the most part, consistently polled in first or second place since throwing his hat into the race. Undeniably a tough opponent to tackle, Paul says he has instead condemned the policies of the other GOP politicians, and has so far succeeded in doing so.

Earlier in the campaign, Paul set his sights on Gingrich and waged a successful campaign at exposing the former House speaker. Previously, Paul put down Speaker Gingrich as a “serial hypocrite with a hard-hitting campaign ad. According to data from RealClearPolitics, Gingrich’s popularity among voters has dropped by around half since those ads were released in December.

“Right now, the anti-Romney candidate is Santorum, so I have to get his votes, as I did at one time with Gingrich,” Paul explained to NBC this week.

In terms of coordinating an alliance with Romney, those rumors would go against most of what the congressman stands for himself. Speaking on Saturday at Central Michigan University, Paul reminded supporters that the former Massachusetts governor and he fail to see eye-to-eye on most everything.

“I don’t know what all that meant… No, we’ve never had a conversation, anything like that … but he’s a family person, I’ve known him for five years, so it is a little bit different. But I don’t agree with [him on] hardly anything, probably,” said Paul.

On their own part, Romney senior campaign advisor Stuart Steven’s dismissed Santorum’s latest claims as “whiny silliness.”

Former GOP contender Tim Pawlenty also voiced an opinion on the matter and agreed that the last thing he could imagine Ron Paul doing would be to settle for endorsing an establishment candidate such as Romney. To MSNBC on Friday, Pawlenty said Paul would be the “last person in American politics” to make a “back room deal” with Romney.

Santorum added over the weekend, “We need to go out and say we don’t need the Ron Paul faction and the moderate establishment teaming up to attack the real conservative in this race.” Stevens from the Romney camp responded by saying that he could not imagine Congressman Paul ever putting aside his own politics to forge a sneak attack against Santorum.

“The notion that Ron Paul would do anything but speak his mind is not an argument you can push very far,” said Stevens. “If ever there was an iconoclast who got up there and said what he believes, it’s Ron Paul.”