Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney Go at Each Other For Robocalling in Michigan

GOp presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have been talking non-stop about their chances in Michigan, a 30 delegate prize. 

Here are the punches and counterpunches in the latest contest between the two frontrunners on Santorum's robocalling strategy: 

Romney said, "There's a real effort to kidnap our primary process, 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."

Romney also called the robocalls "outrageous and disgusting." 

I feel for Romney here and I think he's right that it qualifies as underhanded. 

The Santorum campaign defended itself by saying that the calls were a way to reach out to conservative leaning Democrats. His spokesperson, Hogan Gidley said, "Rick Santorum's message — a balanced budget, cutting spending and revitalizing the manufacturing sector — resonates and inspires the conservative base and resonates with Reagan Democrats." 

I doubt it. Many democrats are opposed to Santorum's stance on social issues and since Santorum has promised to be fiscally conservative, that won't vote for him based on just the auto bailout. 

Not only that, Santorum said that Romney ran automated phone calls of him endorsing Mitt Romney in the 2008 elections. Yea, Santorum went back that far. 

In further defense of his actions, Santorum charged Romney with hypocrisy. In 1992, Mitt Romney admitted that he voted for Paul Tsongas in the Democratic primary in an effort to weaken opposition to Republicans. Romney said, "In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary ... When there was no real contest in the Republican primary, I’d vote in the Democrat primary, vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponent for the Republican."

But how deadly is this charge of hypocrisy? It's one thing to be a sneaky Republican (Romney) voting strategically to weaken Democrats for the sake of the overall success of the GOP, but it's another to be a GOP nominee baiting Democrats to vote for you to help your own chances at the possible cost of your party's overall strength. The first is underhanded, but the second is just selfish. 

In fact, some democrats have already seized on Santorum's baiting to vote in a way that they think will benefit Obama. They are already on the robocall bandwagon themselves. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Jordan Wolf

My training is partially in philosophy and I'm interested in democratic theory, but more practically, I like thinking about media sophistication, data in politics, and ways to curb partisanship.

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