Mitt Romney is accusing Rick Santorum of using "dirty tricks" in Michigan by making robocalls to Democrats urging them to vote for Santorum in Tuesday's too-close-to-call Republican primary. "Romney supported the bailouts for his Wall Street billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailouts," the automated call says. So "join Democrats who are going to send a loud message to Massachusetts Mitt Romney by voting for Rick Santorum for president." The kicker? "This call is supported by hardworking Democratic men and women, and paid for by Rick Santorum." The rules do allow any voter to cast a ballot in the GOP contest, and Santorum's campaign says the automated phone calls simply reach out to Reagan Democrats. Is this smart politics, a little sleazy, or both?
Santorum is simply doing what it takes to win: Romney should stop whining, says Michelle Malkin at her blog. Santorum is just "fighting for every vote — as any candidate intent on winning should." Romney insists these robocalls are a "new low," but he has admitted to casting his own ballots for weak Democrats in past primaries to help Republicans. Romney has based his campaign on the argument that he's "best equipped to appeal to the very Reagan Democrats" Santorum is wooing. Let him prove it.
"Toughen up, Mitt-ercup"
The call is sleazy — but so are Romney's tactics: Santorum's robocall is a "dirty trick," says Robert Stacy McCain at The Other McCain. But so was the Romney campaign's robocall painting Santorum as untrustworthy because he endorsed Romney four years ago and opposes him now. "It's about time Team Mitt got a nice stiff dose of their own medicine." This is politics, and, as Democratic strategist James Carville likes to say, "Politics ain't beanbag."
"Santorum turns the tables on Mitt in Michigan with robo-calls to Democrats"
Santorum should be wary. This could backfire: If Santorum's "ploy succeeds," says Steve Kornacki at Salon, "it will give Romney an opportunity to argue that the Michigan result should come with an asterisk." In 2000, John McCain used crossover Democratic voters to beat George W. Bush by eight points in Michigan — but "alienated [the] Republican establishment" and gave Bush a great refrain about McCain's friendship with "mischievious" Democrats in the process. If Santorum wins, you can bet Mitt will hammer his conservative rival for his new "alliance with the Left."
"Rick Santorum's 'mischievious' Michigan ploy"