How Much Longer Can Mitt Romney and Donald Trump Stay Pals?

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New Jersey mom Patricia Krentcil. Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images

The political alliance between Mitt Romney and Donald Trump, consummated in February with a very awkward handshake, is about to get even closer. Romney is headed to Las Vegas on Tuesday for a Trump-hosted fund-raiser, the campaign is holding a fund-raising lottery for the chance to eat dinner with Trump (possibly at Famous Famiglia), and Trump is thinking about forming his own Romney-supporting super-PAC. Clearly, Trump is good for Romney's bank account. But he also remains, to this day, a very confident, very unapologetic, very embarrassing birther:

"Look, it’s very simple,” said Trump ...

“A book publisher came out three days ago and said that in his written synopsis of his book,” Trump went on, “he said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia. His mother never spent a day in the hospital."

“That’s what he told the literary agent,” Trump insisted. “That’s the way life works … He didn’t know he was running for president, so he told the truth. The literary agent wrote down what he said … He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia … Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break."

Romney doesn't have to agree with Trump for this to hurt him. The middle-of-the-road voters who Romney and Obama are fighting over don't think Obama is a secret Kenyan. In fact, they like Obama, on a personal level. Romney often reminds those voters that he likes Obama, too. So if the media, during this news-starved lull in the campaign, begins to focus on how Romney is pallin' around with a birther, it might be kind of a turnoff for a key group of people.

Is it worth it?