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. CoJo

    ooh, if democrats go out and vote santorum just to "mix things up" ... oh so we would really not get an idea which candidate the republicans (read that as the evangelicans) really want. That ought to confuse the picture... No matter who wins, people would be asking did he REALLY win? Wow. But be carefull what ya ask for, ya might get it. I would rather have no president than Santorum.... if you don't know the game he is playing by now, you never will.

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

    Amazing. Both political parties are such hypocrites. When Rush et. al. did this, the liberal Dems screamed their heads off about it being low and immoral and dirty. Now they sink to the same level and smile about doing so. We so need a strong, moderate third party to replace all these jerks. I couldn't stomach voting for either McCain or Obama and now I may get saddled with Santorum and Obama as choices? And the partisan pains in lower anatomical locations think this is good for the country? Give me a break.

    February 28, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. Say NO to GOP

    Just cast my vote for teh american Ayatolah! It feels good!

    February 28, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Matthew

    Reagan won many dems votes too. That's what happens when dem presidents r lame and suppressive. Santorum will embarass Obama at the polls

    February 28, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. Diana

    Santoriums own words for all of you Republicans complaining about the Dems voting in the election:

    Santorum, after greeting diners in this Grand Rapids suburb, told reporters that he reached out to Democratic voters, who can vote in the primary, to show that “we can attract voters we need to win states like Michigan."

    February 28, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    A True Con, Santorum is ASKING for Democratic votes, and its an open primary: how is that sleazy? By the way, how are the conservative voter suppression efforts going? Found any new ways to disenfrancise people you don't like?

    February 28, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  7. Dan

    Democrats show some class.

    Do not stoop as low as Mitt Romney did in 1992. Mitt Romney admits he changed his voting affiliation so that he could vote for Democrat Tsongas in the primary trying to cause trouble.

    Remember Rush Limbaugh repeatedly asking Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary and cause trouble in 2008.

    Just because the Republicans have admitted doing this for 20 years now, is no reason for the Democrats to stoop to their level.

    Resist the urge to stoop to Romney and Limbaugh's level. Democrats stay home, let the Republicans elect their candidate and remind Independents that you disagree with Republicans like Romney (1992) and Limbaugh (2008).

    February 28, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. DenInNooYawk

    This is such a bad idea. If Santorum actually wins everyone who voted for him and didn't want him will be carrying a very heavy burden.

    February 28, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Rich

    "Democratic stagiest Joe DiSano "

    Could you run the article through spell check prior to posting, CNN? I mean, we KNOW you can't be bothered to have a living, breathing copy editor – but spell check is quick, easy and doesn't cost anything.

    February 28, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Shane

    Mitt gave 14% of income to charity during same time Rick Santorum gave 2.2%

    February 28, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    as much as I don't care for Mitt Romney I actually LOATHE Rick Santorum and could not bring myself to cast ANY positive vote for him. I would just assume let the Republicans do their own self destruction which they seem to be doing very well as of late.

    February 28, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Yeh, so when Romney loses it will be because a few Dems voted for Santorum. Who is trying to spin this, CNN or the Romney campaign? Or are they one and the same......

    February 28, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. Ghostdog

    This is repulsive. I don't think that anyone should engage in this type of thing. As someone who is independent leaning toward the conservative side, I find this extremely repulsive. I didn't agree with it when Rush said to do it and I don't agree with it now. I didn't like any of the candidates in the last general election. I would like to have someone who I can support, instead of someone that others supported in an effort to sabotage someone else. Simply put, this is disgusting.

    February 28, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    Awesome. Chaos Theory in action – drag this thing out and make the Republicans continue to spend their money destroying each other.

    February 28, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Jim

    I'm a Democrat from Michigan and voted Santorum today. AND I graduated from college, too.

    February 28, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Go Rick!

    February 28, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. Ann

    How can Santorum.. the 'religious' and 'moral' guy encourage this voting behavior? This is not about him winning Democrats' votes, this is cheating. Isn't God watching you Mr. Santorum?

    February 28, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Santorum is sick himself and if Democrats vote for him they are even sicker than him and I bet you this will backfire both.

    February 28, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. Malory Archer

    Corey, did you know that if someone followed through on your request and told the authorities that they were acting at your request YOU could be charged with solicitation for murder? That being said, did you suggest that Hillary's supporters shoot the fat, drug addicted reichwing radio screamer in the head after his call for Operation Chaos?!

    February 28, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  20. jilli

    There's nothing illegal about this. This is an OPEN primary and all Michiganders are eligible to vote regardless of party. It's all legal and above board. If you want to be angry at someone – be angry at Ayatollah Santorum – he's the man behind the robocall encouraging democrats to vote for him.

    February 28, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. Nate

    I can understand why the dems would do this in order to help along the weaker candidate, but Santorum himself making these robocalls is pathetic. To appeal to Obama's strongest base of support even though he has no hope of winning them in the election shows he is a spineless wimp with no conviction of conscience who knows he can't compete against a much more competent Romney.

    February 28, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  22. Get-Real

    I'll vote for anyone but Obama

    February 28, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  23. cashmeremafia

    This article is so full of misspellings, it's painful to read!!!

    February 28, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. Nate

    This tactic by Santorum, even though it will likely work and secure him the lead in Michigan, will hurt his national stature. He runs as the principled conservative, but he shows himself to have no strength at his core.

    February 28, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. DC Insider

    This is GREAT news for Mitt Romney We now know where Santorum's support is coming from -the liberal left. This will be burden to Santorum friom which he will not be able to recover.Trupiano has always palyed dirty tricks - that is what makes him A Democrat - but he is playing right into romney's campaign – this gives Mitt a plausible reason for any perceived prro showing in Michigan - and this will be nothing but a blip as Romney will take the nomination

    February 28, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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