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. The Real Tom Paine

    Wow, truth, if you had half a brain that was NOT shoved up your rear orifice, you would know this tactic was sanctioned by the great sleazeball/dirtbag Rish Limbaugh in the last election. I thought you would be flattered we were following your lead. Is there anything else we can do to ruin your life in 2012, or will sweeping the Teatards out be good enough to fill your quota for the year?

    February 28, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Saboth

    Good for them. This whole "democrat" vs "republican" thing is nonsense. I'm pretty sure I'm registered as a democrat currently, but why should I be limited? I'd certainly vote republican if they had any viable candidates (which they don't). Unlike some people, I don't simply vote along party lines despite it being the wrong thing for our country.

    February 28, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. Corey

    And I'd ask all of my supporters to shoot Tony Trupiano in the head. Yes, I like making mischief too!

    February 28, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Mikey

    @Truth – You must be a liberal who is trying to make conservatives look stupid. You can't be for real.

    The GOP ditry tricks machine is way dirtier and more effective than anything the Dems employ. Please. In fact, this is exactly what Rush called for 4 years ago – and Santorum started it this time. Do you remember what Bush did to McCain in South Carolina in 2000? How about swiftboating a war hero in 2004 to get people to vote for a draft dodger?

    The KKK was in the Democratic party before the Dems pushed through Civil Rights under Kennedy and Johnson. Then they all moved to the GOP. That is why the South went from solid Dem to solid GOP in the 1960's.

    Public policy changes resulting in wealth redistribution has been going on since the 1980's, when Reagan began pushing tax policy and regulatory changes that over the past 30 years have resulted in tremendous concentrations of income and wealth in the hands of a small portion of our society and also led to flatlining wages for 90% of the population, increasing poverty, and lower upward mobility. As Warren Buffet said, there IS class warfare going on in America and his side is winning. So tell me, are you against policies that redistribute wealth, or is it just the direction of redistribution that concerns you?

    February 28, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |

    It's hilarious that when Dems use the same tactics that the GOP does that the GOP/TP get so angry and outraged! Such hypocrites and bullies!!

    February 28, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    Sorry about the spelling mistakes, folks: I'm just laughing at a rabid truth on here.

    February 28, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "Democrats have no business voting in the Republican primary,"

    According to Michigan law, they sure as heck do. It's called an open primary, and ALL Michigan voters have the RIGHT to vote in it however they see fit.

    February 28, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. anagram_kid

    Sorry, but the whole ‘Democrats are afraid of (insert name here)’ was wasted on Sarah Palin. You will have to come up with something new. Maybe try the socialism label; it is all the rage!

    February 28, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    Truth, didn't you say earlier to just let people decide what they want and vote? I guess we're seeing your paranoia showing (again). Nothing worse than people actually voting according to their conscience, eh?

    February 28, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. Lala Hopscotch

    Isn't this what they did to Obama – they told everyone to vote Hillary to try and hurt the party. Difference here is Obama can beat either of these nutjobs ..

    February 28, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Drew

    Sorry Carlos but Mitt admitted to doing the same thing, and I'm sure Michigan GOPers vote in Democratic primaries. It is perfectly legitimate

    February 28, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Since Santorum is openly couting the Dem vote there I am not sure how anyone could call this dirty. The Dems are just complying with Santorums request. If anyone is dirty it is Santorum aka Frothy!

    February 28, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Al-NY,NY

    awww poor Mittens. He (and the others who conveniently forget GOP uses of this tactic in the past) can't deal with the fact that Mittens is doing so poorly in his own state they now complain. If he were electable, it would be a landslide win in his own state. Since he isn't and it's going to be closer than he wants, it's cry like a little baby and stomp your feet in a temper tantrum

    And as usual, Lies and Noting but Lies throws out the typical tripe that characterizes his/her world.

    February 28, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Chris

    Who cares? Rush Limpbaugh was encouraging Republicans in the 2008 Democratic primary to go out and vote for Hillary to prolong the process. It's the same exact thing just by the other side. Wasn't a big story then and isn't now.

    February 28, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    @ truth is nothing BUT the untrue...

    Why don't you go complain about the Koch brothers/corporations trying to essentially buy votes under the guise of free speech in states other than those in which they reside? Influencing elections is part of the game. You just don't happen to like how it's playing out this time. Go cry to Rush and Romney...

    February 28, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. Benjamin Farber

    Have journalists heard of spellcheck? This is the second article in a row on cnn.com that has several typos in it. Pathetic.

    February 28, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. ryan

    "In my state of Massachusetts, you could register as an independent and go vote in which—either primary happens to be very interesting. And any chance I got to vote against Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy, I took."
    -Mitt Romney 1/28/2012

    February 28, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. Dave

    I don't see how the GOP can complain if Democrats are just doing what a GOP candidate, Santorum, is asking them to do.

    February 28, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Diana

    Santorium actually has a robo call out targeting Democrats to go out and vote for him.

    February 28, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. quinLee

    I don't know.....this sounds like something that may very well turn around and bite the Dems in the end.

    February 28, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    I'm a Democrat from Kent County and voted for Santorum. Let Romney be on alert that Michigan doesn't love him any more.

    February 28, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Riptim

    These tactics were invented by the con baggers, when it bites them in the ass they whine like the big babies they are. LET THE CLOWN SHOW CONTINUE.

    February 28, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. A True Conservative

    Wow – first the Dems go with ACORN registering many new voters illegaly – and now this! And the sleazebags complain that Republicans are sleazy – I guess it's just the way it's done in the cesspool that is Chicago politics.....If you can't compete in the arena of ideas....find underhanded ways to swing the election....

    February 28, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. juicelee

    Our political process has become a GAME to some and it is win at all cost. Once upon a time, we had integrity, honesty, honor, and goodwill toward our fellow men. Today it is anything goes, nothing is wrong if we win, and we will cheat, steal, and do dishonorable things to achieve our ends. Disgusting man, disgusting times, and disgusting voters who fall for this ploy.

    February 28, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Little Jimmy Truth

    To radio host, how much you got payment with our taxes from your dear president Obama?

    February 28, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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