February 10, 2012

Romney and Paul: Not allies but not foes, either

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

The Associated Press

Supporters of Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Ron Paul argue outside a Romney campaign event in New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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Paul has also defended Romney against attacks on Bain Capital, the investment firm where Romney made millions. Critics, including Gingrich, have criticized Bain for consolidating companies and laying off workers to make big profits for Romney and other executives at the firm.

"If he loses the election because he restructured companies, I don't think that's a healthy way to sort out the candidates," Paul said in New Hampshire when asked about Romney's history at Bain.

Romney won New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, and Paul came in second.

Romney has returned the favor, occasionally praising Paul in debates for his understanding of health care. Paul is a former Air Force flight surgeon and obstetrician.

"You do exactly what Ron Paul said ... you have to get health care to start working more like a market," Romney said in a debate in December when asked how he would improve health coverage as president.

Romney reiterated that praise this week in a conference call with Maine supporters, saying Paul's years as a doctor gave him real world experience Gingrich and Santorum lack.

For Romney, staying on Paul's good side is also strategic.

Paul's presence in the race weakens Gingrich and Santorum, making things easier for Romney, the field's front-runner. Paul has earned more than 10 percent of the vote in every contest so far, except for the 7 percent he earned in Florida. And he's finished in the top three in three of the first eight contests. Those are voters who might otherwise support Gingrich or Santorum, since there is little overlap between Romney's voters and Paul's.

Paul may have something more tangible to give Romney as well: delegates.

So far, Paul has earned just nine delegates, but he's likely to accumulate many more because of the new proportional voting system adopted by most states. That means Paul may be in a position to arrange a transfer of some delegates to Romney at the Republican National Convention, which could be significant if Romney is locked in a tight race with another rival.

"If Mitt Romney remains on good relations with Ron Paul, they should be able to come to a polite agreement on how that will work," Dennehy said.

 

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