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.

CNN LIVE: Tune in tonight at 6 p.m. ET for live coverage of the Arizona and Michigan primaries and follow real-time results on CNNPolitics.com, on the CNN apps and on the CNN mobile web site. Follow CNN Politics on Facebook and on Twitter at #cnnelections.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"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. Shannon

    Santorum is robo calling Dems to vote for him, where is the phony outrage from the right about that. Republicans, the party of no integrity, no ethics, no ideas and no decent candidates.

    February 28, 2012 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  2. mil8778

    Woot! Go Michigan Dems! We're planning on doing that here in Washington State this Saturday!

    "Santo Baby, you're the one!"

    February 28, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  3. Amy in Michigan

    I'm entertained at all the comments bashing Democrats for this. What comes around goes around. Besides, Obama will serve a second term. He was handed down such a load of garbage from Bush that I'm surprised our country is doing as well as it is.

    February 28, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  4. Travis

    This is stupid, Democrats and Republicans shouldn't be able to do this to the other party. I cant believe their is not a law that prohibits it. Its stupid ugly politics.

    February 28, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  5. Matt

    The fact is Democrats are actually going out and voting for candidates they are completely opposed to, with an obvious fear of Obama facing off against Romney in the fall. If there are no decent candidates, they shouldn't waste their time meddling in Republican affairs. Who has no integrity? Those asking for the Democratic vote or Democrats pooping in someone else's sandbox?

    February 28, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. jon

    Nothing better than throwing a wrench into the engine of the lemon Mitt "the used car salesman" Romney is trying to sell the American people.

    February 28, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. Keith

    This is no different than Rush Limbaugh urging his listeners to vote for Hillary in the democratic primary in 2008. Republican hypocrisy at its best, Keep playing the victim.

    February 28, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  8. Dingbatali

    Confusion to the Enemy!! Go Go Michigan Democrats! The Primary elections are not good for much most times, but this time maybe one goes to good purpose.

    February 28, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  9. jschmdt

    I guess the Dems who did this are scared. Scared the voters will see through Obama and vote for the Republican. Too bad they have no faith and have to resort to dirty tricks. But for Obama dirty tricks is his game.

    February 28, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  10. Matt

    Grow up guys, this is so childish. When has it come down to Democrats vs. Republicans or vice versa. Aren't we all Americans? Aren't we all on the same team?

    February 28, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  11. marcindc

    Government of the Lies by the Lies and for the Lies of the Democratic Party. People should not be surprised, these are the same people who support the lies of the community organizer from Chicago.

    February 28, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. Philo

    It never amazes me the depth librals will sink to to destroy everything we hold sacred in this country.

    I realize now more than ever that there is a huge divide in this country, between the honest, repectable people who love America and the democrats and looters that despise everything we stand for.

    February 28, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  13. ARTRaveler

    Michigan, and other states can prevent voter cross-over by simply going to closed primaries. That isn't too hard to figure. Obviously, both parties like being able to do it or you wouldn't be having this side-show called "Michigan".

    February 28, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Oh Philo, hope you were near your fainting couch for that dramatic swoon. And, by the way, demonizing others is a standard psychological ploy used by totalitarian and fascist regimes throughout history. Interesting that tactic is the very same tactic you and your GOBP deathcult are using.

    February 28, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  15. Matt

    @Anonymous – Have you seen what many of the fellow Dems have written here? Foul play on both sides. Thats the whole point.

    February 28, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  16. Jeff from Toronto

    Did Santorum just admit his grandmother went to college? Didn't he say that college leads to liberalism and anti-religous teachings. Hmmm.... I guess higher education isn't political after all. Please someone call him on how higher education is a wrong avenue for everyone? Or does that lack of education just push forward the right agenda??

    February 28, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  17. Herp a Derp

    The Romney campaign fought for allowing the Dems to vote in Michigan. This whole thing about voting for Santorum is so the primary goes on until mid-May, thus drying up more money used in these primaries. The Repubs allowed this to happen. Cant blame anybody but yourselves.

    February 28, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  18. Mi Nan

    It never amazes me the depth conservatives will sink to to destroy everything we hold sacred in this country.

    I realize now more than ever that there is a huge divide in this country, between the honest, repectable people who love America and the republicans and looters that despise everything we stand for. The republicans have a difficult choice between a candidate who wants to trun the country into a theocracy and a candidate who wants to turn the country into a corportacracy. Too bad neither one is worth a pile of beans.

    February 28, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  19. Matt

    @ Mi Nan- How many times are you going to write this? Do you just copy and paste? You feed right into Anonymous description of tactics used by Totalitarian and Fascist regimes. Deathcults? Destroying everything sacred? This must mean war right? War on the republicans, war on the democrats. This is the kind of behavior that caused the Maine Senator to retire. The things you say demonstrate your level of education. How embarrassing for so many who contribute to these articles.

    February 28, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  20. scott

    Pointless now since The Mittster won. The election may actually be a contest this year, the way it should be in a democracy.

    February 28, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  21. Kyle

    Typical Democrats – hateful and disgusting.

    February 28, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  22. Independent Mind

    Ok, even if I were a Democrat I would still be totally against this practice, which equates to thievery. Why can't we let the system work as intended? Let the candidates win votes solely on their merits instead of trying to rig the system? I once thought highly of the Democrats (especially after GW Bush) but this type of behavior will only serve to turn off independents like me.

    February 28, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  23. Franny

    This is nothing new, and both Parties have done this many times before. I would never vote for any of these Candidates, because I'm secure in knowing it matters not one bit who wins the nomination for the Republicans. They don't have a snowballs chance in beating President Obama. I am angry at my fellow democrats for behaving this way. The Republicans, and Tea Party bunch will continue their personal attacks on President Obama until the end, and then they'll start all over again just like last time before he's even sworn in. It galls many of these folks because we have an intelligent President who refuses to behave in the same manner. I don't want any of these hotheads with a finger on the button. I've never seen such a religious bunch ready to go to war again. Sound familiar?

    February 29, 2012 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  24. Morris

    "Sen. Snowe is a dying breed within the GOP: a rational, pragmatic centerist in a party rapidly losing both its mind and soul."

    Are you saying that somehow, someday, in some way the GOP might catch up with you progressives?

    February 29, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  25. Bob

    Stupid. Completely stupid. Look, I get what the Democrats in Michigan are trying to do but let's suppose it worked, then let's suppose Santorum actually became the nominee, then by some outside chance actually became president? Nip this thing and get the crazies off the ticket for good.

    February 29, 2012 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12