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.

CNN LIVE: Tune in tonight at 6 p.m. ET for live coverage of the Arizona and Michigan primaries and follow real-time results on CNNPolitics.com, on the CNN apps and on the CNN mobile web site. Follow CNN Politics on Facebook and on Twitter at #cnnelections.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"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. Frank

    This is about the most idiotic political strategy to date. Let's just pretend that Rick is the GOP's man and the weak economy is getting crushed in November thanks to higher oil prices and warmongering by the administration. who do you think the moron's of this country will vote for? I would rather not take that risk. While I don't want Obama in office again, I certainly do not want Santorum and if it comes down to the two, I'll take Obama.

    February 28, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. Anti Sarah

    Please. The Michigan GOP has pulled the same stunt in the past. This is nothing new here in Michigan. Turn out at my precinct was abysmally low. Remember that, America, when the results roll in. This will be no mandate.

    February 28, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  3. Blinkythemoose

    Do you guys realize WW3 is right around the corner (before this election most likely). Obama has got this one in the bag.

    February 28, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  4. Larry L


    "I am not so sure that Obama has the re-election in the bag and I think he knows it."
    President Obama certainly doesn't believe he has the election in the bag. He must be relieved to see such a pitiful Republican field, the poor turnout at the polls, and the constant flow of ridiculous statemnents coming from the candidates. Contraception is evil. You have a bunch of cars so you're a supporter of the auto industry? Romney isn't really a Christian. Obama really isn't a Christian. Newt IS a Christian! Obama only needs to keep doing a good job and let the Republicans fire away – at their own feet!

    February 28, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  5. judy

    rush did it last time . this is not new,to bad this is wht politics has come to. We need to get back to the basics.

    February 28, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. logicnLA

    All this talk about romney's home state- he hasn't lived there in decades! Home is where your heart is- his is not in Michigan and neither is his driver's license!

    February 28, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  7. Scared by Santorum

    Yes, Democratic voters are skewing the Michigan polls. Yes, that's ethically suspect. This race is an emergency situation which requires some bending of the rule book.

    Rick Santorum might be an awesome candidate for the hardest of the hardcore Religious Right. For the vast majority of Americans, including this fiscal conservative, Santorum is just way way far into the Religious Right. I am convinced that Santorum wants to turn the US into a copy of Franco's Spain or Saudi Arabia. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but there's no taking chances with a guy like this. Note to Ricky: theocracies always fail. No state that has tried to force religion on its citizens has done so without resorting to a police state and/or dictatorship.

    I'm not happy with Obama's performance to date. Still, I just could not vote for Santorum in the general election. At least with Obama we live in a secular republic. Let's keep it that way.

    February 28, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  8. bettyboop33

    Works for Democrats..hands down. lol

    February 28, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  9. logicnLA

    Anti Sarah- there never is a mandate! Toofew poepl register for that to happen.
    About 27 % elect our leaders- but about 90% complain

    February 28, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  10. Fingal

    I'm from Michigan, this is nothing new on both sides. I remember my friends republican father telling stories about how he'd always vote for the least likely to win democrat in the democratic primary. that's was 20 years ago.

    February 28, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  11. Geezer

    This election is awesome. Kick all republicans out of congress.

    February 28, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. Observer

    It's sad to see a Democrat with the same level of integrity as Limbaugh.

    February 28, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  13. naggingmoose

    In the last election republicans voted as democrats for Hillary or Obama so this is nothing new!

    February 28, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  14. Larry L

    @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."
    As a vet of over 30 years I've seen a good number of Commander In Chiefs. Obama has been the best by far – the terrorist's worst nightmare. He allows us to fight smart and he leverages intelligence – his and the National Intelligence Sytesm. I know right-wingers hate to see good things happen to America during Obama's watch – but those are facts.

    Bush on the other hand should be charged with murder. When he, Cheney and Rumsfeld conspired to cook the intelligence data to get a Congressional thumbs up to attack Iraq he committed treason – resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of people. He signed the death warrant for over 5000 Americans so he could go fight the "War Daddy Didn't Finish" and keep Haliburton fat and happy. Romney and Santorum are "chickenhawks" who will make the same irrational mistakes as "W".

    February 28, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  15. roro

    At least the Dems are encouraging voter participation, unlike the Reps who are trying their darnedest to suppress voting with their flimsy claims of voter fraud, which exists only in their minds.

    February 28, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. Heyyya

    All we need is another false flag operation, and this whole election will be sealed-up.

    February 28, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  17. Charlotte Rowe

    Oh, this is hardly unethical. If the rules allow it, then go for it. Michigan isn't the only state where this is done, it used to be de rigeur in Alaska primaries, too. It's how the game is played. If they don't want it to happen then the party can close its primary. If they leave it open, they can expect this. I do like the philosophy that as long as the horses are neck and neck you can see each of them work harder and harder for that primary, meaning they're going to start shwing their true colors. The voting public will get a much truer picture of these guys in the process....and all those sensible, sane republicans will either stay home or vote for Obama. All the independents will run screaming from the eventual GOP candidate. The outcome in November is virtually (but not completely) certain to be 4 more years. A lot of super-Pac and corporate money will be wasted. Perhaps we can all just sit back and consider it a really well-funded (non)reality show, entertainment for the masses.

    February 28, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  18. Sam

    Why don't they go out and vote for Ron Paul instead?

    February 28, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  19. michaelwg

    If Obama beats Mitt in November, the G.O.P will survive and move even farther to the right. If Santorum gets beat in November, the G.O.P is dead in the water, there is no farther right that they can move to. They'll need an entirely new platform. It's a risk, but I think it's worht it.
    People have mentioned ethics and integrity in regards to this. Umm, it's an election people, if you want to take away someones right to vote, this isn't the country for you. If they are allowed to vote in this state, then they are allowed to vote. Being tactical and intelligent isn't the same thing as unethical.

    February 28, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  20. Ted B

    I love Obama and want him re-elected, but this is a very dangerous strategy. What if Santorum gets nominated... true it may be our chance to really show how out of touch the Republicans are, and hand the moral majority a sound defeat, but do you really want to take a chance with Santorum??!!! Who knows what will happen between now and November that could knock Obama out and completely change the game. Romney, we may survive. Santorum we won't.

    February 28, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  21. garc

    Good for him! I looove how all the extreme right likes to come out and say how terrified we are of them (palin, santorum, etc.). Yeah, we're horrified. Are you kidding? They are the belated Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

    February 28, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  22. Attila, The Hun

    and if RoMoney wins then what are these crossover Dems going to say? If his roots were really in Michigan why was he governor of Mass? His father was governor 50 years ago – so what does that count for?

    February 28, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  23. mercadotx

    Well, as a Democrat I think this is really risky. I don't want Santorum that close to getting the nomination. I might not like Romney, but I could live with President Romney. I don't think any of these guys has a prayer, but you just don't know what will happen from here until November. President Santorum? that is too dangerous for our country. I don't want a theocracy in our country. As a women I have worked to hard for my rights to get taken away by crazy people who feel that women are too stupid to make their own choices.

    February 28, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  24. Jose G

    Dems should vote for Ron Paul instead. Voting for Santorum is very dangerous, we might actually get stuck with him.

    February 28, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  25. Jazz

    Listen to all the hypocritical justification for dishonesty. I've voted Democratic but am ashamed for this behavior and will not support Demos again. This kind of crap surely contributed to Michigan's downturn. This play of dirty tricks certainly will be returned in spades.

    February 28, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12