Time magazine: Discussions between Romney and Paul about a deal are "taking shape"

Supposedly Team Paul is engaged in “initial discussions” with Santorum and Gingrich too, but c’mon. Newt’s chances at the nomination are only slightly higher than Paul’s are and Santorum’s hawkish social conservatism makes him a total nonstarter for libertarians. Just today, Reason editor Matt Welch published a column shivering at the thought that Team Sweater Vest might be back for another try in 2016. Romney’s the only game in town for the rEVOLution, just as he’s been since the debates started. (According to Time, one of Romney’s allies joked that Paul is their “deputy campaign manager.”)

This is the right time for a deal too. After Santorum’s southern sweep last night and with a new moment of truth looming in Illinois next week, Mitt could really use one of the few endorsements left on the landscape that would actually move votes. If Paul waits and Mitt wins Illinois and then starts to defeat Santorum consistently, his delegates become less important and his bargaining power shrinks accordingly.

Even as they tamp down rumors of a pact, Paul’s advisers concede that the friendship between Paul and Romney is the initial step toward a deal. And behind the scenes, discussions between the two campaigns — as well as initial discussions with the Santorum and Gingrich camps, according to one Paul adviser — are slowly taking shape.

An alliance could benefit both camps. Paul’s support would go a long way toward helping Romney with a bloc of young Republicans who have been turning out in huge numbers for Paul and who otherwise might stay home in November. It might also help Romney grab all of Paul’s delegates. Such an arrangement would help Paul get what a Romney ally called “an important speaking role at the convention.”…

Aides say if Paul can’t win the nomination, four legislative priorities would top the Texas Representative’s wish list: deep spending cuts that lead to a balanced budget; the restoration of civil liberties; a commitment to reclaim the legislative branch’s right to declare war, which it abdicated to the executive branch in recent decades; and reforms that shore up the U.S. monetary system, such an audit of the Federal Reserve or competing-currency legislation. The Texas Representative might also be enticed, says campaign chairman Jesse Benton, by the prospect of serving as a presidential adviser, a Cabinet position for someone in his orbit or “perhaps a vice presidency.”

Not for himself, but rather his son.

The only way Rand’s ending up on the ticket is if it looks like tea partiers might boycott November en masse, and no one believes that or else Romney wouldn’t dare say things like this. But he can certainly deliver a plum speaking gig for Paul at the convention and probably a Fed audit and maybe a commitment to the War Powers Act, although presidents tend not to cede power once they have it. (Right, Barack?) If Paul dropped out and endorsed him and if Paul’s supporters followed through by voting for Romney, that’s another 7-10 points Mitt gains instantly across the country, which is huge given the threat of Gingrich dropping out and endorsing Santorum. It’s nearly impossible for Santorum to catch Romney in delegates but if he started beating him head to head consistently, that’d be a heavy point in his favor at a brokered convention. Paul’s voters could make that scenario less likely if they followed Paul’s advice and turned out for Romney. Would they? Most of them think he’s the only man who can save America; if that man then turns around and tells them that some other guy, who’s been all over the map ideologically for the past 20 years, is the best choice for president, do they listen? Hmmmm.

Here’s Krauthammer mulling the dynamics after last night’s one-two punch. Click the image to watch.

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