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Rick Santorum has begun to call out Ron Paul and Mitt Romney for their alliance in the Republican presidential primary as he seeks to unite the broad majority of his party that has rejected Romney’s suspect politics for something more pure and fiery.

“We need to go out and say we don’t need the Ron Paul faction and the moderate establishment teaming up to attack the real conservative in this race,” he complained Saturday while campaigning in Michigan.

That state, along with Arizona, holds its primary Tuesday, and with polls showing the former Massachusetts governor once again on the upswing, Santorum is expressing frustration at what has become a pattern of Paul savaging him at debates, in television ads, and on the stump — and leaving Romney well alone.

“The coordination that I felt at that debate the other night was pretty clear,” Santorum said. “I felt like the messages were being slipped behind my chair.”

The most cynical observers — and Santorum himself — have suggested some kind of deal was cut between Paul and Romney. Clearly, Paul was not happy at the way his campaign fizzed out in 2008, and at least wants a speaking slot at the convention this time. He’s also looking out for his son, Rand, who some are speculating could be Romney’s vice-presidential candidate. The younger Paul said it would be an “honor” to be considered.

For those of us who find it hard to believe that Paul and Romney would get along personally — much less that Paul would help Romney lock up the Republican nomination — we need only remember that Romney is the free market capitalist in a primary that has often danced around issues of class and wealth. Paul is much more comfortable with Romney’s worldview than Santorum’s right wing populism.

The weekend was capped by another frustrating turn for Santorum as he labored to lock up the conservative vote: Governor Jan Brewer, the anti-immigration firebrand who has led Arizona to be an international symbol for nativism and racial profiling, endorsed Romney.

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