Rick Santorum and others speculate that there exists a super-secret alliance between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney to stop Santorum from getting the Republican nomination for president. While Paul's son, Rand, has already entertained the possibility of being Romney's running mate in the fall, pundits and journalists including Reason's Brian Doherty have found no evidence for the alleged backroom dealing.
The theory of a Paul/Romney pact is finding few believers in Romney's home state of Massachusetts, one of the many states that vote on Super Tuesday.
"I don't really pay attention to that stuff," said Paul's Massachusetts director Matthew Robinson. "Right now we're totally focused on the primary. We're trying to reach out to voters and get our people out to vote. Dr. Paul has strong grassroots support in the state."
Robinson said that he is hoping Paul cracks 15 percent in the polls so he is guaranteed to walk away from Super Tuesday with at least one delegate from the Commonwealth.
In 2008, when there was no rumored Paul-Romney alliance, Romney won Massachusetts with 50 percent of the vote. Eventual Republican nominee John McCain took 40 percent while Paul finished behind social conservative stalwart Mike Huckabee with 2.64 percent of the vote. The only Massachusetts poll available is from Suffolk University and it shows Romney leading the field with 64 percent followed by Santorum with 16 percent, Paul with 7 percent and Gingrich with 6 percent.
"I don't believe any of that alliance nonsense," said Dave Kopacz, president of the Massachusetts Republican Assembly and a Paul supporter. "I think that was a creation of the establishment. To float a rumor out like that, they knew how that would sit with people. To be honest, I don't know that he has to go after Romney. It could be part of the Ron Paul campaign's plan to go after the other guys."
"I think we'll get 15 percent around this time but if we fall short it is still a major improvement," said Kopacz, an environmental consultant.
An elected Massachusetts Republican and active Paul supporter who declined to be named suggested the allegations were ridiculous.
"I think the whole thing is crazy. The man's spent twenty years in Congress not giving up anything for his principles," they said.
The Paul supporter than told me that the majority of the Paul efforts have been focused on the district caucuses in April, not the election on Super Tuesday.
The Romney camp in Massachusetts dismissed the alleged alliance in a similar manner.
"These guys struck up a personal relationship in 2008. They are the only guys in the field who ran back then. Plus, Paul served with Santorum and Gingrich. He can look at these guys and say 'Hey, you did not practice what you are preaching now,'" said Massachusetts House Minority Leader Brad Jones, a Republican from North Reading and long- time Romney backer.
The leading anti-tax advocate in Massachusetts, Barbara Anderson, is a fan of Paul's but she says she is backing Romney because she thinks he is the only candidate who can beat President Obama. When it comes to the reported pact Anderson, the head of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a self-described "small 'l' libertarian" said she thinks Romney appears to actually like Paul and that she hopes Romney will listen to Paul when it comes to foreign policy.
"If you watched during the debates Romney generally seemed to like Ron Paul. You saw he was always carefully watching and listening to what Paul was saying. I have a feeling he absorbed quite a bit of it and maybe it will influence his thinking," she said.
"It's just genuine, I think they like each other," said Anderson.
Another long-time Romney supporter, State Rep. Vinny deMacedo of Plymouth, said he did not think there was much to the reports.
"Paul clearly doesn't have a lot of love for Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum, in the debates he said that he believes they are Washington insiders. I do think it's clear that he has respect for Romney though," he said.