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. Karen

    I remember in the 2006 playoffs, as a Denver Broncos fan, I was hoping that Pittsburgh would beat Indianapolis because Indianapolis had Denver's number. Got my wish! Unfortunately, Pittsburgh beat Denver the following week.

    I remember the last election that Rush Limbaugh was telling people to vote for Obama over Hillary. That worked out well for him, didn't it?

    Santorum is a scary guy. I just hope this doesn't backfire.

    February 28, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. koolman

    Dems do NOT take the nov. election for granted! There is still a lot of time left for the republicans to create havok and dont think for one second that they won't use every dirty trick in the book to defeat Pres. Obama. Its going to take all dems voting to beat the republican smear and lie machine.

    February 28, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. an admirer

    This is really great and very funny. I love it! Go, Dems! I would be right there with them, voting for Frothy, if I lived in Michigan. Actually, of course, not one of these Repuke clowns has a chance against Obama, so right now, we Dems are just sitting back and enjoying the circus. The Repuke candidates tearing each other apart is going to provide some marvelous soundbites and video clips for the Dems to use in the summer and fall. Obama/Biden 2012!

    February 28, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. WhereIsPalin

    The question we all need to be asking ourselves is what would Limbaugh do?

    February 28, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. skarphace

    One word of caution, Democrats: be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

    There is always a chance, however small, that Santorum could beat Obama in November. This would be the worst possible outcome for America and such a chance should not be taken, in my opinion.

    A Romney Presidency would be bad for America. A Santorum Presidence would be absolutely disastrous.

    Therefore, I offer a compromise: vote for Ron Paul. Win-win, in my opinion.

    February 28, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Chitown Jason

    I think it would be wise if you are unhappy with the GOP candidates, to vote for their "black sheep" Ron Paul. Santorum winning may help stretch out the nomination and help Obama win the general election (a foregone conclusion anyway), but getting significant votes to the guy that at least somewhat differs from the main GOP platform will send them the real message.

    February 28, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. Core republican Values

    Mischief is putting a toad on the teacher's desk. Voting for Santorum (regardless of your party) is helping to ensure our great nation survives another four years.

    February 28, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. Bruce L

    If the people of Michigan, or the two major parties, really had a problem with this, they can ask their legislature to change the law and make it a closed primary. The fact that this has not been done indicates that the law, as it stands, basically has the support of the public and the two major parties. As to precisely what they are doing, it's been going on, in another form, in the south for decades - conservative white Democrats vote for the weakest candidate in their primaries, and then go for the Republican in November. And no one complains.

    February 28, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  9. Martin Walters Seattle

    Mitt Romney himself supported this same concept when it was applied to a Democrat Primary. ( google it ) Flip-Flop
    Not to mention Rush Limbaugh and other Republican talk show hosts. ( Operation Chaos ) Same old, same old.

    February 28, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Evidently there are the usual reading comprehensively challenged amongst us. This is a tradition of sorts in Michigan.Nothing to get worked up over really because ALL of your guys truly suck. You would think that you would be thanking those Democrats for breathing a spark of soon-to-be-extinct hope into the armpit of the little boy who wants to be America's Pope, Lil' Ricky Santorum. Jeesh. Obama is going to sweep AND mop the floor with whomever has the misfortune of facing him in the general.
    Obama 2012.

    February 28, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    The question we all need to be asking ourselves is what would Limbaugh do?
    Chuckle! Good one!

    February 28, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Taran

    Dominicanmama4obama, you don't do your cause any good with your response. You out and out lied. You have been doing that more and more lately. Must be getting desperate.

    February 28, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. Romney > the rest

    Be careful. Obama didn't have a snowball's chance in heck vs Hillary. Now he is president. Do you want to risk a Santorum presidency?

    February 28, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. GaryOwen27

    I think the Taliban Santorum would be a fine nominee for the Red Neck Right.

    February 28, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  15. All that needs to be said

    "Voting for Santorum goes against everything I believe in and everything I've ever stood for in my life." Way to sell out everything you believe in for a cheap and dangerous political stunt (seriously, giving Santorum even the look of credibility is dangerous).

    February 28, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. Maria

    That worked real well for the Democrats during the primary election for Governor in Michigan, it backfired and Snyder became governor. Wayyyy to show those Republicans!!!

    February 28, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Len

    Rush Limbaugh did it in 2008 Dem. primary.....I guess that was okay because it was the GOP....party of values

    February 28, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. the_dude

    I guess democrats and republicans both have party members they wish would just shut up.

    February 28, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. Don'tLikeThisTactic

    I'm 100% democratic supporter and believe Obama could beet Romney or Santorum with his eyes closed, but I do not support or believe in this tactic at all. I can only see bad things coming out of this. If the GOP doesn't have a candidate by the convention and it go's open, if somehow they find a more vuiable candidate by then and this new person is chosen as the candidate and they are the hot flavor of the month, I could see them taking down Obama. DON'T LIKE THIS TACTIC.

    February 28, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Doug

    We have seen too many presidents with skeleton's in their closet. If one of those emerged for Obama to cause him to loose the election and we got stuck with Santorum that would be a disaster. I don't like Romney, but he's not a wacko

    February 28, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Ron in California

    To: Dominican mama 4 Obama,
    Thanking Dem's? For what, cause they know that if Mitt wins he will put down your president whom still has unemployment above 8%. What other president has won his re-election with those numbers. Yes things are going better for the country in his last Min's. If he would have worked hard on the economy in the first place, instead of putting the health-care plan down our throats, things might be different. Dem's should thank Bush for all the info they got on Bin Laden, or he'd still be at large planning yet another attack on our great country. Romney 2012!!!!!

    February 28, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. Bill

    "Mischief". What a cutesy discription of a cowardly act.

    February 28, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Paulo

    Funny how the article does not mention Limbaugh or operation chaos, which was nation-wide and famously back-fired on conservatives. I disagree with these kinds of cynical tactics, but I think it is wrong of CNN to just point out that Democrats do it without mentioning Limbaugh.

    February 28, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  24. Johnson

    I am a Dem who does not for one minute believe in this tactic.

    February 28, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  25. Kenfolk

    As a Lifelong Michigander, I remember 1972 when Repugs voted en masse for George Wallace in the Democratic primary, leading him to victory. It wasn't until 2000 that I had the chance to vote McCain (when he was still sane) against W. I too was tempted to vote for the theocrat over the plutocrat but couldn't bring myself to do so. My wife voted for Buddy Roemer and I voted in the Democratic party for a non-democrat, Bernie Sanders who best represented my values. In the general of course I'll vote for President Obama despite my disappointment in his constant caves to the Greed Over People (GOP) party.

    February 28, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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