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. Dave

    "Reagan won many dems votes too. That's what happens when dem presidents r lame and suppressive. Santorum will embarass Obama at the polls"
    You're not the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you?

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

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

    This is what they taught you in college? Cheating?

    February 28, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. longtooth

    For those who react in horror to this kind of manipulation, it's been going on in all elections forever. The solution would be to follow other states that only allow voters registered in that party to vote in the primary. There would still be some hanky panky, but not as much.

    February 28, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Sean

    I'm never a big fan of these strategies. I much prefer everyone voting for who they think is a good candidate, so that we have a better shot of getting the best people in the general election. Of course this year, the GOP hopefuls are all so sorely underqualified that none are "good", but as a rule, I wish this voting "strategy" would stop.

    February 28, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    DC Insider wrote:

    This is GREAT news for Mitt Romney We now know where Santorum's support is coming from -the liberal left.
    You now know nothing more than your did yesterday. Let's accept your postulate as potlical fact. Your equations totally break down when I point out that Santorum won states with closed primaries, not open primaries like Michigan's.

    Now for the GREAT news. Mitt Romney ain't looking so good.

    February 28, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. davec.0121

    This is nothing new or unique to Democrats. If you recall, in 2008 Rush Limbaugh advocated that Republicans do the same thing in Democratic primaries.

    February 28, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. MrAsheSin

    How about we do something different: Everybody vote for Ron Paul!! Watch the faces change!!!

    February 28, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. Texas Doc

    The "deal with the Devil" is a vote for Romney. He is not a Christian and does not share real American values.

    February 28, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    DC Insider obviously does not know how to read and understand polling data.

    February 28, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. logicnLA

    When the results are in and the Michigan primary becomes a "shocker" – remember this tact- There is no real vote going on today. Michigan was a joke 4 years ago for Democrats and now for Republicans. Wake up and smell real democracy. One vote for the party candidate you are registered with -in a primary and all the delegates count.

    February 28, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Jimi

    I live in Michigan one thing you learn here is it doesn't matter who you vote for your screwed anyway!

    February 28, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. V in Chicago

    This just goes to show that Santorum is dumb as a rock and is so clueless, he doesn't even realize that the Democrats who are voting for him today have to throw-up after leaving the polls. No Democrat would want Santorum as President!! I agree with the guy who said he would rather have no President at all than to have Santorum as President. Ricky is just so "high" on being in the spotlight, he doesn't even realize that he is NOT attracting Democrats – he's being played by them. There is not a snowball's chance in he!! he can beat Obama in November. The Republicans = the circus that just keeps rolling along.

    February 28, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Just Say No to Flipper

    Look you GOBP sheeple, quit your phony poutrage over Dem voters and focus on your own extremely dysfunctional party. About half of you want the same millionaire tax three quarters of the nation wants. Why is your party ignoring you? Why does Karl Rove get to decide which neocon robot he'll ram down your throats?

    February 28, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. V in Chicago

    @Ann – you call it cheating? I call it beating them at their own game.

    February 28, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. cashmeremafia

    If Santorum needs Democrats to eke out a victory, what does that say about his electability among Republicans?

    February 28, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Jerry W

    People always say this about the Michigan primaries. I'm a left leaning independent voter that used to live in Michigan and in 2000 I voted for McCain, as did many independent and liberal voters because we really wanted McCain as president. It had nothing to do with political tricks in my opinion. Clearly McCain (or even a monkey) would have been much better than George Bush. There are always irrational people who will try to "trick" the system, but I don't think it's nearly as widespread as the media reports it. I'm confident that the overwhelming majority of people vote for the candidate they really want to see as president.

    February 28, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. Malory Archer

    Question for anyone familiary with open primaries: After all is said & done and the votes are counted, is there any way to determine how many dems actually voted, and for whom they cast their votes? It would be interesting and quite informative to see if there were enough dem votes to actually throw the race one way or another.

    February 28, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. T

    Does it matters, everyone does it.......Rep did it to Obama in 2008...Your REP can't take the HEAT..........

    February 28, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. God

    I wouldn't vote for Santorum, what if he actually won.

    No way, no how.

    February 28, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. Malory Archer

    "Poutrage" Not sure if you accidently hit the "P" key as you were typing Just Say No, but your new word definitely fits! Can't wait to use it on the tightie righties!

    February 28, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. Sam

    So much for a Moralizer-in-Chief, Mr. Santorum! What about your so called moral values? And you're saying you want to stop Barack Obama? Well, you just helped him: Not a single recipient of your robocall will vote for you come November, and you know it! Shame on you! If you somehow win this nomination, I and everyone I know will stay at home in November despite we always voted Republican. But decency comes first and matters more than party affiliations.

    February 28, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. V in Chicago

    @Truth and Nothing but the Truth (Not) = You've obviously misplaced your meds and you need to find them quickly and take double doses. Do you have any facts to back up calling members of the Senate "murders" and affiliates of the "KKK"? Or any of the other assertions you made about Democrats? I think you've gotten your parties mixed up. Please, take a moment to collect your thoughts. Now, feel free to throw them out the window – right behind any chance the Republicans have of beating President Obama in November.

    February 28, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Mike in Tennessee

    All politics–American or otherwise–involve dirty politics and gaming the system. It's telling that Santorum is also robocalling Democrats and asking them to vote for him.

    February 28, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. Josaphat Daniels

    These strategies does not mean anything at all, because even if romney wins michigan he would still lose in the general election. This is just the primaries folks it will not help santorum or hurt romney they will both lose the state in november.

    February 28, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. cathstar

    All primaries should be "closed" in order to avoid these types of shenanigans.

    February 28, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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