“I’m working harder than anyone I know to make sure he’s not our nominee,” Mitt Romney said of Ron Paul in December. But after Nevada’s caucus, Ron Paul said,  “I don’t see a lot of difference among our other candidates or between the two parties.” 

In the end, politics make easy bedfellows (insert Reagan-Bush “voodoo economics” reference here), especially when, it turns out, Paul and Romney like each other.

According to Amy Gardner of the Washington Post:

Despite deep differences on a range of issues, Romney and Paul became friends in 2008, the last time both ran for president. So did their wives, Ann Romney and Carol Paul . . .

The Romney-Paul alliance is more than a curious connection. It is a strategic partnership: for Paul, an opportunity to gain a seat at the table if his long-shot bid for the presidency fails; for Romney, a chance to gain support from one of the most vibrant subgroups within the Republican Party.

“It would be very foolish for anybody in the Republican Party to dismiss a very real constituency,” said one senior GOP aide in Washington who is familiar with both camps. 

Gardner also quoted a Republican adviser who said Romney’s aides have been “quietly in touch with Ron Paul.”

The assumption is that such a relationship could give Paul and his son, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, prominent televised slots at August’s Republican convention in Tampa, as well as input on the party’s economic platform (“less likely are concessions on foreign policy,” Gardner noted).

Gardner also wrote about how Ron Paul’s stubbornly independent supporters are assimilating themselves into the party politics, even when it comes to something as simple as dressing for state caucuses: 

“A common refrain is to ‘cover your tattoos and cut your hair,'” said Paul’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton.

At FoxNews.com, 2008 Libertarian vice presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root says Romney should embrace Paul and his energetic following not only on the convention stage, but in a more substantive way —by making him a part of the proposed administration:

If I was Mitt Romney  I’d be looking at harnessing all that excitement and passion by offering Ron Paul either Treasury Secretary or Federal Reserve Chairman -– and announcing it to the world.”

That’s probably a long shot (particularly the latter, as current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s term does not expire until 2014). But Rand Paul—whose own political future has been held up as the reason why his father is not likely to break off for an independent or third-party run—is now being suggested as a potential Romney running mate.

Including, indirectly, by Jesse Benton, who told Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News:

Any Republican should be looking at Rand Paul as a potential running mate, because he’s the smartest guy in the room. And he has tremendous credibility with conservatives. Any Republican should have Rand Paul on his short list.

(Benton did add that this was not something the Ron Paul campaign itself was negotiating for.)