WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney and Ron Paul -- friends, and a political odd couple. But are they in "cahoots" in the Republican primary fight?
Rick Santorum can't help but think so these days. Though Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, hasn't campaigned yet in Michigan, which at this point is a showdown between Romney and Santorum, Paul has a television ad running there that calls the former Pennsylvania senator a "fake conservative."
It's an attack Paul repeated in Wednesday night's debate, prompting Santorum to later publicly speculate about a Romney-Paul alliance.
"Their commercials look a lot alike, and so do their attacks," he said in the spin room after the Arizona debate.
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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a son of the Texas congressman, added more fuel to the speculation the same day when he told reporters that he would be "honored" to be considered as a potential running mate for Romney.
"Whether it's true or not that there has been an actual meeting of the minds in conversations and strategy developed between the two guys, it is clear that there's a hands-off policy between Paul to Romney and vice-versa," conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said on his show Thursday. "Paul does not attack Romney. Romney doesn't attack Paul."
Paul, who has maintained a fairly substantial war chest throughout his campaign, has had a knack for going on the air against some of the lead "anti-Romneys" of the moment.
So what would the two have to offer each other if there were an alliance?
Exit polls from the initial primaries and caucuses have shown that Paul tends to have support from younger voters, lower-income voters and those who lean independent -- all areas of weakness for Romney.
What does Romney have to offer Paul? If the former Massachusetts governor wins the nomination, a seat at the table.
And if not for Paul himself -- he's said he won't run again for his House seat even if he doesn't win the nomination -- then some think he's trying to secure a future for his son.