February 28th, 2012
06:05 PM ET
11 years ago

Michigan mischief: ‘A deal with the devil’

Dearborn Heights, Michigan (CNN) – A longtime liberal radio host asking Democratic listeners to vote for Rick Santorum in Michigan's Republican primary told CNN Tuesday he loves making mischief.

After spending nearly all of his three hour program encouraging Democrats to get out and vote for Santorum Tuesday, Tony Trupiano made no apologies for his behavior.

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"Because Rick Santorum is doing as well as he is doing here in the polls, we could actually take some serious delegates away from him [Mitt Romney]," Trupiano said. "What that really does is it gives America a little more time to get to know these candidates. And don't for a minute tell me we haven't learned a lot more about all of them in the last six weeks. What more can we learn six weeks from now?"

It turns out many Democrats in this state don't need a lot of convincing to engage in this kind of strategic voting.

At a polling station in Dearborn Heights, Crystal Larson said her vote for Santorum made her "feel like I made a deal with the devil."

"Voting for Santorum goes against everything I believe in and everything I've ever stood for in my life and to vote for him takes a lot of guts I think," Larson said.

She said she hadn't received any of the robo calls, but heard about the Democratic effort in the media and decided to vote for Santorum at the last minute.

Gary Zulinski, also voting in Dearborn Heights, said, "I was listening and Democrats were asked to us come and I said 'Why not, this is my way of voting.' That's my right. There are so many people who don't exercise that right. This is my way of saying 'Hey, I've had enough.'"

Democratic stagiest Joe DiSano has been on an active campaign to get Democrats out for Santorum in effort to hurt Romney. He recorded a robo call and has sent tens of thousands of e-mails to Democratic voters encouraging them to go to the polls.

"We are turning them out and feel we can provide a massive jolt and scare to the GOP establishment here in the state and in Washington, DC. When we are done they’ll be taking Pepto Bismol by the gallon at the RNC," DiSano told CNN Tuesday.

"If Romney were able to close the deal, a religious fanatic like Rick Santorum would not have a chance in a state like Michigan. And I'm going to do everything I can to make sure Santorum turns out to be the winner tonight," he said.

DiSano said Democratic Party officials aren't encouraging him, but not discouraging him either.

In fact the state's Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer said his organization wasn't endorsing the effort, but that crossover votes have a long history in the Wolverine State.

Brewer said the effort was not organized by his group, but that similar efforts have been a tradition in Michigan for decades.

Trupiano, who is working with DiSano to target Democrats ahead of Tuesday's primary vote, said the effort could undermine Mitt Romney in his home state.

DiSano said Tuesday he had 14,000 commitments from Democrats to vote for Santorum, all from the robo calls and e-mails he has sent.

"It's not dirty tricks, it's not our official policy," Brewer said. "We think Democrats should nominate Democrats, Republicans should nominate Republicans, but in Michigan there's been almost a tradition of this for 50 years. People have crossed over."

Some in Michigan credit Democrats for delivering Michigan for John McCain in 2000 in effort to hobble George W. Bush, the Republican frontrunner that year.

Seventeen percent of voters who identified themselves as Democrats voted in the 2000 Republican primary. Eighty five percent of those went for John McCain, who won Michigan by little more than 100,000 votes in a surprising victory over Bush.

Brewer added, "We wish they wouldn't do it but it's gonna happen."

Romney's standing in Michigan was already weak, Brewer said.

"The only reason we are talking about this crossover vote is because Romney is so weak. He should be winning this election today hands down," Brewer said.

Trupiano said the Democratic effort was fair, despite the fact that Tuesday's contest is designed for Republicans to choose their nominee.

"I don't care that this is a Republican primary," Trupiano said. "It's an American election."

The radio host also conceded the Michigan Democrats' effort to injure Romney's standing would likely not take down the candidate entirely.

"I don't think we are going to be able to stop him, but we can certainly hurt him," Trupiano said. "I have no problem doing it and I have no problem admitting that."

Response from listeners has already been strong, Trupiano said.

"This morning it's been call after call after call from listeners saying, 'I'm voting for Rick Santorum,'" he said.

Santorum himself caused a stir by recording his own robo call asking Democrats to vote for him.

Ironically, Trupiano said he actually got that call from Santorum.

"It was a robo call but it was in his voice saying, 'Please vote for me tomorrow.'"

"Did you almost fall over?" CNN asked.

"I did fall over. I was like no way!"

Also see:

Romney's special guest: Kid Rock

Romney hits Santorum robo calls as 'new low' in campaign

Gingrich zeroes in on Santorum in the South

Santorum robo call to Democrats: Send a message to Romney

Filed under: 2012 • Michigan • Rick Santorum
soundoff (276 Responses)

    I disagree with everything Ayatollah Santorum stands for, but if I were in Michigan today, he'd have my vote. No WILLARD!!!

    February 28, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Jake

    yet Romney has admitted in the past he voted for Democrats in 1992 to help the Republicans! so Mitt cannot complain!

    February 28, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "'Why not, this is my way of voting.' That's my right. "

    Read it and accept it GOPers/Teatrolls. This is in no way, shape or form a "dirty trick" or whatever other epithet yuo want to slap on it. It's people speaking with their votes. It's entirely different than, say, GOPers in WI running fake Dem candidates during recalls in an attempt to trick voters.

    February 28, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Democrats are the masters of election fraud and sleaze. I guess they've given up hiding it and now openly brag about it. So these are the dirtbags you want running the country and then wonder why things are so bad? Democrat thieves in the House, Democrat tax cheats in the Whitehouse, Democrat drunken murders and KKK members serving in the Senate. Any wonder they think the answer to the nation's problems are to just take peoples' money to give to others? Democrat thugs with laws and power taking the place of armed robbers on the street.

    February 28, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. Mt man

    If i lived in michigan, id vote santorum!
    Obama 2012!

    February 28, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    It's called democracy. No doubt, open primaries were established, by one party or the other, when they saw that it was too their advantage to do so because voters could go out and to exactly what this radio guy is promoting.

    February 28, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. Bev

    i really hope santorum loses in a big way i cannot beleive people whould vote for him very dishonest

    February 28, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Dave

    They are simply saying, LETS TAKE THIS PHONY DOWN!!!!

    February 28, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Independent from FL

    wow. THIS makes me throw up.

    February 28, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Mikey

    Go, Rick, Go !!! This is not just a good thing because Santorum is even more beatable than the forgettable Mitt Romney, I would really like to see a contest between the narrow, repressive vision of America represented by Santorum and the inclusive, progressive vision of the President. This is a fight all those who believe in truth, science, compassion, fair-mindedness, and freedom of conscience should just be itching to have. I certainly am.

    I just wonder if a reelection landslide will result in the GOP rejecting the righwingnut fringe like a virus and retuning to sensible moderately conservative positions that allow us to compromise and move forward together as Americans. This hateful lunacy of these so-called "Christian" conservatives need to end. The sooner the better.

    February 28, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Steve Gastin

    This is a shame. Dems will realize Santorum is difficult beat again Obama which otherwise would have been landslide win for Obama.

    February 28, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. Ferret out the BS

    In Michigan it seems "all is fair in love and politics".

    February 28, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Leslie

    I see, republicans can totally rig the voting process (Florida), but it's mischief if Democrats band together in a legal way.

    February 28, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Bill

    I'm doing the same thing in Georgia.

    February 28, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Donna

    LOL Romney's chickens/tactics are coming home to roost. How smart was it for Willard to say he, too, played Santorum's dirty trick in Massachusetts? Andrea Saul, tell him it's in his best interest to do like THE ARTIST movie charachter. Santorum, well who ever took him seriously?

    February 28, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. anagram_kid

    You are so right. I was at the let’s ruin Truth’s life meeting last night, I had to go to one of the evening sessions as the day ones were all full, and there were a whole lot of thieves, dirtbags, murders…etc there with some great new ideas to keep you from being successful and happy.
    /sarcasm off

    February 28, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. a fair wage

    Is this not the same thing RUSH did on his radio show last election

    February 28, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. Ferret out the BS

    Truth and nothing but .... you should try reading the article. Democrats aren't the only ones pushing this, Santorum is as well, and Romney has done this as well. Your comments are just garbage and hate.

    February 28, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. steven harnack

    When the whole issue can be decided at the convention with little or no regard for the delegate count from the primaries, does any of this really matter? If the Republican powers that be want Romney to be the candidate, Romney WILL be the candidate.

    February 28, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. ABO

    This only prove that Democrats are afraid of Romney, they know he can beat Obama easy, otherwise they won't go so down to betray their own belief.

    February 28, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Mark from IN

    Michigan voters are a gift from heaven for slick rick! He talks about divine intervention, well here it is. In the form of Democratic voters no less. I hope slick rick throws up an intestine once he learns his win is compliments of educated snobs!

    February 28, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Carlos

    Democrats have no business voting in the Republican primary, and the fact that they have been doing this for 50 years doesn't make it any less dirty. By doing this they prove that they are not above doing anything, right or wrong, to win.

    February 28, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. J


    You finished your manifesto yet?

    February 28, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. bannister

    This law should be changed. I do not want Democrats intentionally voting for the "worst" Republican candidate simply because it gives their party a better chance of winning. That's putting your party above the country and it should be changed.

    February 28, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. carrotroot

    @truth there is nothing fraudulent about voting in an open primary. Even if Romney wins tonight it will be a hollow victory. There is no way Romney can beat Obama if a mouse like Santorum can put up this kind of political fight.

    February 28, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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