The Republican presidential candidates have had a lot of chances to hurt each other's feelings over the last year with all the debates and ads and speeches, but it seems Ron Paul is hung up on one insult in particular: "disgusting." Paul and Mitt Romney have been portrayed as the two candidates closest to friends in the primary, and Paul has been playing Mitt Romney's wingman, attacking Rick Santorum in debates and ads airing in states where Paul himself isn't competing. It seems like that's in part because Santorum called Paul disgusting in January, when he was mad that some of Paul's robo-calls to Iowa voters portrayed Santorum was pro-choice and anti-gun. Paul people mentioned the sick burn two separate news reports Friday.

When BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray inquired about the blossoming friendship between Paul and Romney -- something Santorum's campaign hinted was a dark conspiracy -- "a strategist familiar with the conversatoins between the campaigns" told her:

"If all things are somewhat equal, I'm probably going with the person who’s treated me with respect. And if I’m going to make a deal, which I haven’t, but I would go with the decent person instead of the one who called me 'disgusting.' Who would you cut a deal with?

Likewise, The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, who has been notably impressed by Romney, vigorously disputed the idea that Paul and Romney cut a deal Friday. She spoke to a "source close to the Paul campaign" who dispelled the notion of an alliance. Rubin explained:

"What the press is missing, however, is the degree to which Gingrich, Santorum and their staffs have acted in ways that the Paul camp would justifiably perceive as dismissive and rude… Santorum publicly called Paul “disgusting.” … In the debate, an eye-rolling Santorum couldn’t contain his disdain for Paul...

At a staff level, the Romney team, perhaps due to an awareness of the personal relationship between the candidates, has been cordial and professional toward Paul’s people. These things matter."

The strategist told BuzzFeed that the important thing was having Paul's issues and supporters represented at the convention. But if the fight is about principle, is Romney the right guy to do that? He invented Romneycare. Romney has definitely not embraced Paul's call for less military intervention overseas, and definitely not for ending the Fed. Earlier this month, Paul told The New York Times that Newt Gingrich had never supported his campaigns for office, "I never took it personally." In the case of Santorum, that doesn't appear to be true.

For a visual illustration of their tense relationship, check out this weirdly aggro handshake between Santorum and Paul at Wednesday's debate: