Santorum Plays Dirty Against Mitt in Michigan

WASHINGTON – Poor Mitt, he’s getting hit from all sides. Talking Points Memo has the robo call from a man with a gruff sounding voice meant to sound like a working man, talking about Democrats needing to get out to vote for Rick Santorum. The tag line is “this call was paid for by the Santorum for president committee.”

Michigan Democratic strategist Joe DiSano has taken it upon himself to become a leading mischief maker. DiSano says he targeted nearly 50,000 Democratic voters in Michigan through email and a robo call to their homes, asking them to go to the polls Tuesday to vote for Rick Santorum in attempt to hurt Romney. – Democratic Mischief in Michigan

Nate Silver has Michigan too close to call.

I’ve wanted a Romney – Obama match from the start, because of the big money political show it would be and the potential for unmasking the big two parties machines in the worst ways.

But Mitt Romney’s rolling gaffes and his own incompetence as a candidate has been stunning to watch and has put his path to the nomination in jeopardy. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be formidable, because of the Super PAC avalanche, but also because there are so many world event variables that could still make 2012 tough for Pres. Obama.

However, as things stand today Republicans are going to have a rough time making the 2012 election a referendum on Pres. Obama, which is their path to victory.

While Romney continues to be unable to close the sale, it’s not hard to see why religious conservatives are excited about the Santorum revival. He can even talk national security the way they like to hear it.

But could Democrats help Santorum and maybe make a difference in Michigan?

Republicans have bigger problems, because of how badly wounded Mitt Romney is today, much of it his own fault, including how far right he’s gone, especially on immigration. Romney continuing to lose prowess to Rick Santorum, whose extreme views and the power he’s building with religious conservatives threaten Republicans far beyond 2012, has been humiliating for Mitt Romney as a general election candidate.

It’s the set up for Jonathan Chait’s article in New York Magazine.

…Rick Santorum warns his audiences, “We are reaching a tipping point, folks, when those who pay are the minority and those who receive are the majority.” Even such a sober figure as Mitt Romney regularly says things like “We are only inches away from no longer being a free economy,” and that this election “could be our last chance.”

The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a ­natural-majority coalition for Democrats.

The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had ­increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. And the trends were even more striking in some key swing states. Judis and Teixeira highlighted Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, with skyrocketing Latino populations, and Virginia and North Carolina, with their influx of college-educated whites, as the most fertile grounds for the expanding Democratic base. [...]

Chait’s piece, “2012 or Never,” makes the case that this is it for the GOP.

Remember where conservatives were in November 2008, after Pres. Obama won?

We wrote about the death of conservatism back then, too, but in Obama’s first two years the Tea Party rose up, with a lot of help from Sarah Palin, who has long since squandered her power. But not before she helped rev up the religious conservative engine to make historic gains in the 2010 election midterms.

The new group of right wing religious conservatives pointed their energy at women, setting off a war on female freedoms we haven’t seen in decades, which went from state to state.

But religious conservatives overstepped, as many of us have been writing, because extremists always do eventually.

It came to a head when Pres. Obama mandated free contraceptive coverage, then took a scalpel to carve out a First Amendment exclusion that was not planned, but brilliantly played when the uproar played out just how David Plouffe’s polling told him it would.

Women of all faiths and none rose up, leaving the political landscape littered with talking heads and cable yakkers, mostly of the white male variety, their mouths agape, as they had to dial back their pompous vitriol and ignorance over what the First Amendment meant to everyone, not just “the church,” but women in the workplace, too.

Then Gov. Bob McDonnell took a very public flogging for Virginia’s Republican extremism that manifested in transvaginal state rape legislation, with the entire comedic universe bearing down on McDonnell, as well as every political new media site, pundit and writer who had a place to opine.

But according to Chait’s argument in his article, using data that’s been around a while, in the end it will all one day come down to demography.

Not tomorrow it won’t. But what was triggered to manifest when Pres. Obama came in to office, another opportunity very similar looks like it’s returned. Now if the world community, Israel, and Greece will cooperate… then there’s Iran.

The short-term depends on whether Rick Santorum can take Mitt Romney down in Michigan. But also whether the stories of Democrats helping Santorum do it amount to anything significant.

Surely Mitt Romney won’t allow Rick Santorum to beat him in the state where his dad was governor and he grew up. There is no overstating how big it would be if that happens.

What a Romney loss would mean for Republicans in 2012, however, is wild to contemplate.

Taylor Marsh is the author of the new book, The Hillary Effect – Politics, Sexism and the Destiny of Loss, which is now available in print on Amazon. Marsh is a veteran political analyst and commentator. She has been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her new media blog.

12 Comments

  1. I confess, as a Michigan progressive I’m tempted to “make mischief” today, but the idea of voting for Santorum is pretty revolting, even in a means justified by ends context. Besides there are ethical considerations. It was a black eye when republicans did this to the democrat primary in 72, giving George Wallace the win. I have no problem voting in an R primary when I am voting for who I see as the better candidate and have done so. Still thinking it over I guess.. Kind of naive probably – even caring. Afterall, the strategies of the candidates themselves aren’t exactly governed by ethics. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this shakes out.

  2. zephyr– I would do it if I lived there because imo, the scales have already been tipped in the GOP’s favor by Citizen’s United. We now have a society in which an unethical billionaire or group of billionaires can and will determine national elections and thereby the direction this country will take.

  3. Well said Zeph. Going to the polls just to vote for an awful candidate to mess with a political party doesn’t pass the smell test.

  4. Good for you zephyr, said like a true progressive. Your ethical concerns are legitimate however we’re going against a Republican Party that tossed out ethics a long time ago and you’ve got to fight fire with fire.
    It’s like the right screaming about the President using a super-PAC (shame on him) when ALL the Republicans have used them since the get-go (good for them). They weren’t angry, they just wanted the edge… It’s politics!
    Just hold your nose and vote for Santorum, it’ll make the righteous-right proud and help ensure a Democrat victory in 2012. :)

  5. Oh great, conflicting advice! I guess whatever I do I’ll keep it to myself. ;-)

  6. I won’t vote for Santorum as a Progressive simply because I won’t want to get in the same bathtub as Rush Limbaugh. That’s what he advocated in the Clinton, Obama primary.

  7. I think it’s a very provocative notion, zephyr.

    Michael Moore talked about it last night on Maddow’s show.

    Giving Mitt Romney & the GOP heartburn over a Santorum win in Michigan must be *very* tempting!

  8. American men and women have fought and died to preserve our right to vote. This is a right and privilege that should be held sacrosanct. Tampering with the vote and the voting process in any way, shape or form should be frowned upon. This win-at-any-cost mentality is absolutely detrimental to the moral fiber of our country. What happened to integrity?

    While cross-party voting is legal in some places, it doesn’t make the abuse of such a process ethical. If a Democrat wants to vote for Santorum now and in the general election, I’m all for it. If he is voting simply to stop Romney I find it reprehensible. I disagreed with Rush Limbaugh when he suggested it four years ago and I’m against it now. According to Eric Holder, having Black Panthers with clubs standing outside a polling place isn’t breaking the law, but is it right?

    The fact that Santorum is using the exact same tactic as Moveon.org and the Daily Kos should tell you something. Santorum is proving once again that he is a politician to the core.

  9. I voted for Obama in the Dem primary, knowing I would vote McCain in the general, not out of spite against anyone, but because I thought it would be a significant milestone for blacks in the US to have a nominee.

    that being said…I would vote Santorum if I lived in Michigan…because the Rep party deserves a good lesson of what happens when you let extremists take over your party.

    People died for our right to vote however we want for whatever reason we want…and that is freedom!

  10. Shannon Lee

    Exactly! Plus doesn’t it annoy you just a little that Romney is winning the nomination not because he has charisma, not because he has a core belief system, not because he is a skilled politician— but because he has a group of NY billionaires who are backing his run who letting the cash flow like Niagara Falls.

    Why would the voters in Michigan vote for a man who would have let the major industry in their state fail, thus losing 1.4 million jobs???

  11. bb….. If I had to choose between Romney and Santorum for President…and Romney had just fired me from my job, I would still choose Romney. Santorum is a lunatic.

    I understand your problems with Mitt…I have the exact same problems with him, but Santorum is certifiable and lets not even get into Newt :)

  12. Please keep in mind that Mitt Romney DID do this (in the opposite direction) by his own admission.

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