Elections

Romney surrogate: Santorum should give back Mich. delegates won by appealing to Democrats

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

Rick Santorum should give back some of the delegates he won Tuesday night in Michigan, said Romney-supporter and Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, because he won them unethically by appealing to Democrats.

Santorum has received flack for robo-calls his campaign made in the final hours before the Michigan primary urging Democrats to get out and vote for him in the state’s open primary. Democrats, including Michael Moore, called for similar action because they felt that Santorum would be a weaker candidate against President Barack Obama in November.

The Romney campaign held a conference call with prominent supporters from several Super Tuesday states to lambast the former Pennsylvania senator for “teaming up with Democrats.”

“Rick Santorum cheated,” Turner said on the call, adding that he should relinquish those delegates, as he got them through votes from people that would never support him in a general election.

Romney himself has admitted that, as a registered independent in 1992, he voted cross-party for Sen. Paul Tsongas in the Democratic primary.

“In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary,” Romney told ABC News in a clip transcribed by Politico. “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.” (RELATED: Full coverage of the Santorum campaign)

Asked on the call why that was an acceptable thing to do, but Santorum’s courting of Democrats was not, Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho said, “there’s really no comparison at all.”

The difference she drew was that while it was one thing to behave that way as a private citizen, to encourage such behavior as a candidate was unethical.

“Governor Romney has been a candidate in the past, and never once has he employed these underhanded tactics,” Gitcho said.

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