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. rosaadriana

    In the 2000 primary I voted for McCain because he was the less scary of the two candidates. We all know how that turned out. I don't want to take that chance with Santorum. He is even scarier than the Y2000 candidate I was trying to avoid and the outcome of a Santorum win will be even worse, if you can imaging that.

    February 28, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. stevenfbrackett

    He should have been encouraging his listeners to write in "Annie Von Ells". Read it aloud if you have to. How telling would it have been if there were 100,000 write in for "Annie Von Ells"

    February 28, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Charlie from the North

    Look, I do't like Mitt Romeny and I will never vote for him but I would urge my fellow Democrats not to engage in this dangerous activity. Picking for your opponent can really backfire. It did not involve actually voting for him but I remember how glad I was when the GOP chose Paul LePage over his more moderate opponent because this LePage guy was the worst of the worst and so out of touch that he could not possibly win: well a third party candidate and a low voter turnout later and: you guessed it Maine now has the absolute worst governor ever. So, even though it may mess with Romney's plans I plead with you never, ever to vote for that monster Sanatorium. Think of how bad you would feel if he really won.

    February 28, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Investment Advisor

    @Taran- You are right! This is definitley the Liberal "garden of Eden" blog sight. I guess misery loves company or loves to wallow in its mess. I hit this sight about every 3-4 days just to see how demented things can get . It is somewhat sad to see the cheerleading and backslapping going on. Keep in mind there is not much new blood here....basically just the same names.

    February 28, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Neo

    “The Democrats think Republicans are stealing elections. The Republicans think Democrats are stealing elections. And those of us independent of the two old parties know they are both right.”

    "Kevin Zeese"

    February 28, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  6. Mike

    "Ron in California" is delusional. G.W. Bush shut down the Bin Laden task force. He stated on national media he didn't spend much time thinking about him and he wasn't really concerned about him. The GOP can't stand the fact that Bush failed to get Bin Laden with two terms to do it. Pres. Obama got him before finishing his first term. Obama said he would make it a priority and he did. They went in on Pres. Obama's orders, got Bin Laden in a clean sweep, and left with no casualties. That's something all Americans should be happy about no matter who was responsible. If it had happened while Bush was President the GOP would flaunt it over and over but instead they resent it. Face it, 9/11 happened under your guys watch, he failed to get Bin Laden, and he left office with the economy in shambles. Obama is cleaning up his economic mess and got Bin Laden while he was at it all while the GOP went on about nonsense like birth certificate conspiracies and the almighty ACORN. Give me a break. This November is looking better every day.

    February 28, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ron in California
    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!!!!!
    This says ALL there is to say about you, doesn't it?
    Any additional response on my part would be redundant.
    Obama 2012. Seriously America,

    February 28, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  8. Dr Knowitall

    By hanging their hat on the hook that says the end justifies the means proves that true liberals are the lowest of the low in the human food chain.

    February 28, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  9. Hoser

    I have no problem with Dem's trying to create mischief (I would fully except republicans to do the same )- but how can Santorum encourage them??? Isn't the ultimate goal here to beat Obama? I cannot for the life of me understand why any republican would vote for Santorum after this. He is asking for Democrats to choose the Republican canidate, and as the article so cleary points out, the don't need much prodding... I wonder why...

    February 28, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  10. Colin

    You incorrectly referred to Trupiano's call from the Santorum campaign as irony ("Ironically, Trupiano said he actually got that call from Santorum.")

    That is not irony, just coincidence. People misuse the word "irony" all the time.

    February 28, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  11. Bill

    Just further proof that liberals will do anything to have their muslim savior in the white house for another term. If the republicans did this, obuma would be raising holy hell and demanding legal action. Get ready to bow down to alla baba 20 times a day. obuma will use the next 4 years to push muslim on everybody.

    February 28, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  12. AliceInWonderland

    Mischief? Get over yourselves. People don't vote in primaries to choose a president. They vote to choose a candidate to
    run against the other's party's candidate. Nothing to see here, folks.

    February 28, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. Jon S.

    I did not vote for either GOP candidate, even with the President running unopposed. There is no way I would vote for Romney, a serial liar, or Santorum, who wants to turn America into a christian version of Afghanistan.

    February 28, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  14. Peter (CA)

    I am not so sure any of this is a good idea but for Republicans to complain about this after all of the voter suppression stunts and tricks they have pulled is hysterical.
    Mud slings from all sides.

    February 28, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  15. Legalize Industrial Hemp

    This is a dangerous game. Be careful of who you vote for. Some Democrats voted for Bush in earlier primaries, believing him unelectable, and the result was eight years of regression.

    February 28, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  16. Robert Moray

    It makes sense why the Democrats would want to vote for Santorum. If Santorum wins Michigan, he seriously cripples Romney, not to mention gains more ground. However, on the other side, Romney is a much more electable person that Santorum. Even though Santorum based church and state separation mandates, only to flip his opinion the night before the Michigan primaries began, he is who the Democrats should want to move on to the general election, because Obama will make him look like a fool. It's analogous to voting for the worst singer in American Idol. Sure, technically they win due to the popular vote, but the majority of them are subpar for the real contest, that being making it in the entertainment industry.

    Nonetheless, I'd prefer not to listen to liberal banter about how the conservatives play politics. To essentially subvert democracy in this manner, which seems both uneducated and uninformed, is to enable someone to gain great power that they may not deserve. Moreover, it subverts democracy because, instead of enabling someone who has the potential to lead this country well, it uses politics and preexisting law to manipulate the outcome of events.

    I think that Michigan voters should vote based on whom they think is best, not based on what an ignorant radio show host says. It only takes 15 seconds to Google the candidates' websites and maybe five to ten minutes to figure out what they're about. The vote of the citizens is what counts, so it benefits us all in the long run to make informed choices.

    February 28, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  17. sonic10158

    Democrats doing mischief, how typical.

    Had the GOP done it, they would be calling for the banning of that party

    February 28, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  18. An observer in Canada

    Calling what the Democrats are doing as mischief minimizes the fact that these false votes are cheating the American public out of a legitimate choice. I wonder: If the Republicans made robocalls to registered Democrats falsely giving a changed location of a polling station, would CNN call this mischief or would they call it a misdeed or worse. I can't believe that the commentators aren't being more forceful identifying this mischief as an assault on Democracy, rather than viewing this as a laughing matter.

    February 28, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  19. Keith

    I am a Michigan Democrat who voted for Rick Santorum today. I went to that trouble because I support President Obama and I think Rick Santoum has very little chance of beating him in the general election. Some people think this is wrong because it taints the system. Where have those peoples voices been as billionaires have poured tens of millions of dollars into the race to further their personal political agendas. It seems to me that the system is already so morally corrupt that anything on top of that is insignificant. Those people who complain now are hypocrites. My only regret is that I had to resort to transient support for someone I do not respect as a candidate to achieve my purpose.

    February 28, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  20. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    Tony Trupiano and Rush Limbaugh should both be ashamed. Tony's doing it this time in michigan, Rush did it with hillary and obama four years ago.

    you don't tamper with elections. It's unamerican and disgraceful.
    keep playing your games and see what happens when you wake the tiger.

    February 28, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  21. Butter My Butt And Call Me a Biscuit

    Go Dems! Have Fun! A Rick Santorum Candidacy scares the crap out of Democrats AND REPUBLICANS! Help make it happen although I don't think Obama needs much help at the moment. He seems to have everything under control

    February 28, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  22. Annie, Atlanta

    Didn't Romney admit to doing this himself years ago, voting for Paul Tsongas?

    February 28, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  23. Ian

    I'm a little ashamed to say that, up until this point, I've been assuming that Obama's re-election was inevitable. Now, with the idea of Santorum in office dangling in our minds, I'm too scared to even play with that fire. Democrats need to put the foot to the republicans throat before too long.

    February 28, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  24. ben

    Dems are smart. I want Santorum to be the nominee so then he has to explain his racist and homophobic comments and get destroyed in the general election.

    February 28, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  25. Chris McMarlin

    This is not new, they did this in Ohio for the General election 2008. The Republicnas were voting for Barak or Hillary in order to set up an easy win. I think Fatso Rush encouraged it on Super Tuesday. I saw this as a election worker. And it stuck with me thats why I voted for Rick Santorum on my absentee ballot today and mailed it off. LOL.

    February 28, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
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