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Paul campaign to Santorum: He's just not that into you

The alleged coordination between the Mitt Romney and Ron Paul camps was burning up political sites and talk shows yesterday. Conspiracies ranged from a Ron Paul VP spot to a possible role (VP, Cabinet, whatever) for son-of-Ron Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Jen Rubin at the Washington Post has a different take: looks like Paul really just doesn't like Santorum (or Gingrich, for that matter).

... Rick Santorum and his team came out with a conspiracy theory that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Mitt Romney were in cahoots. A source close to the Paul campaign told me last night that the Paul camp sees this as an effort by senior Santorum adviser John Brabender to distract the media from the fact that his candidate was “not ready for primetime.” ...

Indeed, on one hand, you can say it was foolish for Santorum to cook up an excuse for his dismal outing. Santorum already has a reputation for being thin-skinned and peevish. This tactic certainly made him seem like a poor sport. ...

Both campaigns confirm that Paul and Romney are personally friendly, as are their wives. They are both of the same generation, with married kids and grandkids on whom they dote. They’ve both been happily married for decades. (It is widely known that Ron Paul’s wife was friendly with Gingrich’s second wife.)

It is human nature to show greater deference and civility to those whom you like. What the press is missing, however, is the degree to which Gingrich, Santorum and their staffs have acted in ways that the Paul camp would justifiably perceive as dismissive and rude. When I asked Brabender for reaction to the accusation that he was practicing the art of distraction, he e-mailed, “It sounds like something the Romney campaign told the Paul campaign to say.” It is precisely this sort of denigration — that Paul and his staff are unable to think on their own or advance their own interests — that has fueled Paul’s desire to skewer Santorum. The source close to the Paul camp responded, “Once again demonstrates the total lack of respect for Ron Paul, his supporters, and his campaign team held by Santorum and his top advisor. When you build coalitions and treat your fellow Republicans the Santorum-Brabender way you end up losing in the general by double digits in the swing states like Pennsylvania.” You get the picture now?

It has been going on for some time now. Santorum publicly called Paul “disgusting.” Gingrich has been telling others to get out of the race for months. In the debate, an eye-rolling Santorum couldn’t contain his disdain for Paul, who returned the favor with blow after blow to Santorum’s self-image of a “courageous” conservative warrior (wasn’t that self-definition by Santorum an unintentional moment of Newt-like ego?).

Is Rubin right? Eh, I don't think Santorum's the jerk she portrays him to be in her column. I've met the man multiple times, including long, editorial-board meetings while I worked at Human Events, as well as my time working for the Senate Republican leadership. He's been nothing but kind and gracious and an obvious champion of traditional conservative values.

But, that said, my perception could be less commonly held than I'd like to believe. And if true, it would explain Paul's attempts to slap Santorum around a little.

One last thing…
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