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)
  1. phoenix86

    It's not really mischief. It's just that democrats don't have any candidate of their own worth voting for.

    February 28, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. Ron

    LOL. I love it! Republicans started this little game in 2008. Now, it's come home to roost! When will they ever learn that every dirty trick they pull this year comes back to them in 2-4 years!!!

    February 28, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  3. Someone

    Didn't Ru$h Limbaugh try this in 2008?

    February 28, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  4. Shardik

    Yep, turn about is fair play. The Republicans did this last time without a peep of complaint from their base.

    February 28, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  5. RS_Penn

    Rick, if this is what you will do to win, then it goes to character. Making you a character not worthy of the vote.

    February 28, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  6. RCA Hermann

    The right to vote in this country is a sacred right and responsibility. To characterize Americans voting for someone they don't believe to be the best candidate in order to contaminate the results of an election as mischief does a great disservice to our republic. Your reporters amusement with the fraud speaks volumes about her integrity.

    February 28, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  7. GreenCollarWorker

    Republican hypocrisy to cry when their own tricks are used against them. Next time, pick better candidates, or this wouldn't be a problem.

    February 28, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  8. Frudd

    Rush Limbaugh did the same thing, but this is just wrong. How dare the Democrats do something so sneaky and underhanded! Why can't they just mind their own business! Wah!

    February 28, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  9. sittingduck

    Pay attention!!! Santorum has just called Democrats "the devil". Do you really think he has a grasp of the 2 party system of government? Does he have a grasp on reality?

    February 28, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  10. Steve, NY

    Why do you think Obama gave a speech on TV today to the Union members. He's basically afraid of Romney. He coul;d have given the speech tommorrow. All the liberal analysts are bad mouthing Romney. MSNBC is bad mouthing Romney. It's unbielevable. They don't want him to win the Republican Primary. If he does it's all done for Obama in November. It's so obvious that it's actually funny how the Pressis biased. I can't understand why they let Democrats vote in a Republican Primary. You'd would think the Governors would understand that and change the rules in their states. New Yorkers are smarter, they don't allow this bullsxx of the opposite party to vote in the Primaries.
    This a bad day for the Democrats in Michigan and bad for the country. Democrats are bunch of cheaters and that is why Obama is going to loose in November. Bill Maher will want his $1,000,000 back from Obama. When you got athiests and comedians supporting the President, this country is in trouble.

    February 28, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  11. tifoso

    Getting the other party to nominate the person easiest to beat was what the burglary at the Watergate was all about in 1972. That time, it was not a radio host but Nixon and his cronies. At least what is going on in Michigan is out in the open.

    February 28, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  12. Ryan

    Any Democrats that participate in this type actions are no different than pedophiles who prey on children.

    February 28, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    When the weasels and snakes like Karl Rove stop their dirty tricks, only then should this be of any concern.

    February 28, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  14. Carol

    We've done it for years and I'm in GA. We, unfortunately are in a Red State and most everyone in this state would characterize themselves as a proud member of the Tea Party. I hope they don't disappoint this year, to find a disgusting excuse for a candidate to support. It'll probably by Newt, but Santorum is a close favorite here..They don't think Romney has as many screws loose so they aren't supporting him. I'm torn, but now feel like just giving Prophet Rick a shout out by pulling the lever for him! Go Pastor Santorum, you crazy nutball who pukes at the idea of separation of church and state! You'll be a great candidate against Obama!!!

    February 28, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  15. Ambrose Smith

    Rush Limbaugh encouraged the same thing and called it Operation Chaos.

    February 28, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  16. Chris in Toledo

    Yes, RCA- a right and a responsibility. It's our right and responsibility to vote strategically, as long as we're within the law that has been established by the people. And it's Michigan law that Democrats can vote in the primary.

    February 28, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  17. docchi

    I think it is more than just mischief for Democrats to vote for Santorum, in the Michigan primary, not because they support him but only to give a weaker opponent to President Obama. It is a cynical manipulation and corruption of the democratic process, very much like voter fraud. People all over the world are bleeding and dying for the privilege of having a democracy, and being able to vote for the leaders they want. And here we are playing cynical games with our democratic process.

    February 28, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  18. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    But Santorum is the perfect candidate to be on the GOP ticket since Palin isn't playing anymore. Santorum sounds like an utter idiot, he makes no sense, he's completely polarizing, he's not very intelligent - let's face it, President Obama will wipe the floor with him in a debate and Obama will win by a landslide bigger than the one Reagan had when he defeated Mondale.

    February 28, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  19. Ally

    Those people are throwing away their votes... what about voting for Ron Paul? He is the most un-Mitt Romney one of all, and he actually has been proven that he can beat Obama in a head-to-head election.

    February 28, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  20. Mike

    Like Romney said when talking about his low tax rate [paraphrase]: "I didn't make the rules, but I would be a fool not to play by them." If you don't like the way the Democrats are gaming the system in Michigan, change the rule. It didn't seem to bother you in 2008 when Republicans were encouraged to vote in the Democratic primary.

    February 28, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  21. Bert in UT

    Hey, the Dems just learned from Rush. It's what he told Repubs to do in voting for Clinton.

    February 28, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  22. Ducky

    The dirty little Democrats and desperate Santo are plotting to win the GOP together. except Santo actually thinks hes gonna win the nomination too hahahahahahahahaha

    February 28, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  23. m

    For the gop – turnabout is fair play. Your mouthpiece did the exact same thing on a national basis in the past. Even worse, you supported the effort. The law allows open primary voting regardless of registered affiliation. So, don't cry when things get turned upside down. Simply take it as a message from the people that they are tired of your games, tired of you bowing to the 1%. Tired of you interfering in their private lives while pushing your religion down their throats. You tea time revolt fizzled out rather quickly, the people are speaking with their votes this time around.

    February 28, 2012 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  24. Matthew

    How can registered Democrats be allowed to vote in a Republican primary (or vice versa)? Isn't that the very point of registering with a political party, so that you're allowed to vote in that party's elections? I don't understand how things like this can happen. Anybody here from Michigan have know anything about this? Some special election law in that state?

    February 28, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  25. Ejhickey

    Since everyone knows dems are crossing over to vote for Santorum in order to hurt Romney, the results will not reflect a true choice of the voters and can be discounted.

    February 28, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
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