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Are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul teaming up against Rick Santorum?

Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, left, makes a point as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, center, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney listen during a Republican presidential debate Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Mesa, Ariz.

Jae C. Hong/AP/Jae C. Hong/AP

In the spotlight and on the defensive, U.S. Republican candidate Rick Santorum suggested after Wednesday night's debate that the campaigns of Ron Paul and Mitt Romney were coordinating their attacks on and off stage.

"You have to ask Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they've got going together," he told reporters. "Their commercials look alike and so do their attacks."

The Texas Congressman Paul was unrelenting in questioning Mr. Santorum's claims of being a fiscal conservative during his 16-year career in Congress.

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"I find it really fascinating that, when people are running for office, they're really fiscally conservative," Mr. Paul said. "When they're in office, they do something different."

Mr. Romney also attacked Mr. Santorum for his record of earmarks, the common Washington, D.C. practice of securing funds for projects, often in one's home state.

But it was Mr. Santorum's own comments that raised eyebrows during the Wednesday night debate in Arizona, and many have already observed that any wounds were self-inflicted – like his claim to have supported the No Child Left Behind law even though it was against his principles.

"I supported No Child Left Behind, I supported it…I have to admit that I voted for that. It was against the principles that I believed in, but you know when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, the leader and you make a mistake," he said.

"You know, politics is a team sport," he continued. "And sometimes you've got to rally together and do something."

Mr. Santorum also reminded viewers that although he had "a personal moral objection" to contraception, he had, in fact, voted for bills that promoted contraception.

Suddenly, the authentic, true ideological conservative claim made by Mr. Santorum appears to wear a little thin. Like any Washington D.C. politician, he has had to compromise.

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But speaking of the similarity in the attacks ads against Mr. Santorum, here are two recent ads that have gone up in Michigan:

First, the Ron Paul campaign ad that accuses Mr. Santorum of being fake.

And here is the pro-Romney Super PAC ad from Restore our Future, attacking Mr. Santorum. Technically this is not a Mitt Romney campaign ad because Super PACs and campaigns are not allowed to coordinate. But there you go.

Decide for yourself. Are they similar?

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About the Author

Affan Chowdhry is the Globe's multimedia reporter specializing in foreign news. Prior to joining the Globe, he worked at the BBC World Service in London creating international news and current affairs programs and online content for a global audience. More

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