NOVI, Mich. – In the closing hours of Michigan’s hard-fought Republican primary race, the Rick Santorum campaign is launching waves of automated phone calls urging Democrats to turn out Tuesday and vote for him to send a message to Mitt Romney.
The calls highlight Romney’s opposition to the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, credited with helping the domestic auto industry rebound, but a source of controversy because of the cost and the intervention with the free market.
Romney blasted his rival on Tuesday for “dirty tricks”.
“Michigan Democrats can vote in the Republican primary on Tuesday," the voice on the call says. “Why is it so important? Romney supported the bailouts for his Wall Street, billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailouts. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker, and we're not going to let Romney get away with it.”The call asks the recipient to "send a loud message" by voting for Santorum. “This call is supported by hard-working Democratic men and women and paid for by Rick Santorum for President.”
Santorum also opposed the bailout, which the call does not disclose. On the stump in Michigan he has blasted Romney for backing the bailout of big Wall Street financial institutions but turning his back on autoworkers.
“I think Republicans have to recognize there’s a real effort to kidnap our primary process,” Romney told reporters outside his campaign office in Livonia, a northwestern suburb of Detroit. “And if we want Republicans to nominate the Republican who takes on Barack Obama, I need Republicans to get out and vote and say no to the dirty tricks of a desperate campaign.”
Santorum defended the use of the calls, saying he did it “to prove the point we can attract voters we need to win states like Michigan,” the so-called Reagan Democrats.
The state does not register voters by party. Voters can request the ballot of either party at the polling place, or from county clerks if voting absentee. Their choice will then be public record for 22 months.