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. kayla

    how do like it now limbaugh? you are getting a dose of your own medicine. what goes around comes around

    February 28, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. brsblj

    What the left and the media don't seem to understand is that it doesn't matter who the GOP nominee is. Our intense passion to prevent a second term for Obama far outweighs any perceived lack of passion they say we have for our candidates. We don't need to feel a tingle up our leg to know the damage that's been done to the country in the past three years can't continue. Republications, Independents and, yes, Democrats who have actually been paying attention will enthusiastically go to the polls in November to vote for whichever GOP candidate is running against this disaster of an administration.

    February 28, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Anders Perillo

    Typical Democrat Party garbage. No surprise here from the party with no scruples and no honor.

    February 28, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Frookster in Daytona

    The best part of all this is that Rush seems to have selective memory loss. He is attributing extra Dem votes for Santorum as some sort of successful Right-Wing Theocracy outreach program to Progressives or something. Never mind the fact that Progressives would never want a evangelical theocracy for the United States' political system. Not to mention he essentially called all educated people snobs.

    February 28, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Mark W

    Stupid strategy. Obama would beat either one of these candidates. But, by voting for Santorum you risk a brokered convention and having a newer potentially more attractive GOP candidate, Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, getting the nom and being a tougher fight. The best thing dems can do in an open primary is to vote for Mitt and help lock him in as the GOP nom. Santorum will NEVER get enough votes to win the nom. Best case is to "help" Mitt win it.

    February 28, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. db

    I did it! I'm mischievous!

    February 28, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. Mischievous Me

    I did it! I'm mischievous!

    February 28, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Larry L

    Crossing over to vote is much less onerous than questioning an opponents level of "Christianity", starting rumors about "death squads coming to get granny", or putting a false production together at the last minute to tell "swift boat" lies. Republicans wrote the book on dirty politics.

    February 28, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. ST

    Whatever the case. If Romney was the right candidate, no one could have thought of cross-over or voting for Santorum. Unfortunately, Romney is a weak candidate regardless that Michigan is his homeplace and his father was a governor there. If Romney could have shown for many years that Michigan is in his heart, no one, could have listened what others are telling them to do. Romney gave Michigan a cold shoulder, and I do not blame them to show him that they are also cold as he is.

    February 28, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. alkarrk

    I applaud all democrats who do NOT resort to voting for Rick Santorum. Have some integrity, people.

    February 28, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. packerfans

    Yeah Ricky cheated get Vote from Dem, Obama want him to win in Rep!! then Obama beat Ricky so easy..Obama afraid of Mitt can win. Vote r Dem for Ricky is Betray to Rep. Rep voter dont vote for Ricky will not beat Obama!! Vote for Mitt who can beat Obama!! Mitt can save America!! Hey Dem one of should run against Obama before super states votes. Why not Harry Cliniton run against Obama?????She is afraid of Obama her the BOSSSS??

    February 28, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Melody

    Rush Limbaugh led the way on this sort of tactic when the nom was between Hillary and Barrack. So thanks for the great idea Republicans!

    February 28, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. Senor Ed

    Rick Santorum ... the man for 1612.

    February 28, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. BaileyB

    Poor Mitt. He spends millions and millions on negative ads against the other candidates in South Carolina, Florida and other states. The hate radio and teapublicans pound a sitting president unmercifully for 3 years causing untold harm to the country's moral and then Mitti and the teapublicans comp[lain that someone would actually try to get even with him and them. I'm an independant and honestly listen to arguments on both sides, but what goes around comes around and I'm glad somebody is standing up to Mitt and the establishment by creating a little havoc in their weird little world.

    February 28, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  15. Rick in L.A.

    Way to Go Michigan! Make a sham of the electorial process! And people wonder why the system continually fails us.
    Al Gore wins the election by 525,000 votes and look what we ended up with. DOESN'T ANYONE GET IT????

    February 28, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  16. MKS

    I'm a Dem who voted for Rick today in Michigan. It feels good to be bad.

    February 28, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. Fact From Fiction

    Waste of time trying to respond to TRUTH.
    Facts mean nothing.
    His whole purpose in life is to bash Obama and Democrats.
    Jim Jones could not have had a beeter desciple.

    As Yoda would say,
    Hate runs deep in this one.

    February 28, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  18. Obama Cares

    The repugs did the same thing in 2008 when they voted for James Green (I think that's his name) in the Democratic primary.

    February 28, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. kev

    They only shady thing about this is that an actual candidate is pushing this strategy. It's one thing for a radio host or other party member to encourage it, but politics has reached a new low when a candidate officially incorporates the strategy unto his campaign. Santorum is the first candidate to ever do this on record. What a sleeze.

    February 28, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  20. SKR

    And why not? Rush Limbaugh encouraged Republicans to do the exact same thing in 2008 when he told Republicans to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton. I'm laughing my butt off...

    February 28, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    "Poutrage" Not sure if you accidently hit the "P" key as you were typing Just Say No, but your new word definitely fits!"

    I confess, I saw it used by someone else on another forum. Pretty soon, though, I expect it will be spreading like Santorum.

    February 28, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  22. Larry L

    @Anders Perillo

    "Typical Democrat Party garbage. No surprise here from the party with no scruples and no honor."
    I say again... Crossing over to vote is much less onerous than questioning an opponents level of "Christianity", starting rumors about "death squads coming to get granny", or putting a false production together at the last minute to tell "swift boat" lies. Republicans wrote the book on dirty politics.

    February 28, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    "Republications, Independents and, yes, Democrats who have actually been paying attention will enthusiastically go to the polls in November to vote for whichever GOP candidate is running against this disaster of an administration."

    Dream on! Your own GOBP deathcult is ignoring the wishes of half its own rank and file voters who want a millionaire tax. You think they aren't paying to the lies, nonsense and corruption in their own party? OK, many aren't, but many are.

    February 28, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  24. Christa Larson

    I often get called Crystal....sigh. Way cool to meet Dana Bash. Also, Tony Trupiano is awesome. He knows his stuff!

    February 28, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. phil,left of center

    great plan ..the more a person can do to confuse the GOP the better ..it turns out they confuse very easily

    February 28, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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