Romney: Santorum Using 'Dirty Tricks' To Win Michigan Primary

Mitt Romney charged Rick Santorum with using "dirty tricks" to win Michigan's Tuesday primary.

Romney was referring to a robocall, funded by the Santorum campaign, encouraging Democrats in Michigan to support the former Pennsylvania senator. The state's open primary allows voters to choose either party's primary ballot, regardless of initial party affiliation. 

With polls showing the race in Michigan too close to call, the Romney camp has zeroed in on the robocall, blasting out a memo showing Republicans in the state support Romney and putting the candidate, who had been avoiding talking with the media, out front.

A loss in Michigan would be devastating for Romney, who grew up in the state and whose father served as governor. Romney won the state by nine points in the 2008 GOP primary.

When asked about the criticism during a campaign stop in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Tuesday, Santorum said Romney should stop complaining.

"We're going to get voters that we need to be able to win this election. And we're going to do that here in Michigan today," Santorum said, according to The Associated Press.

But, according to GOP strategist Ford O'Connell, no amount of spin could help Romney if he ends up losing his home state, especially after his campaign made clear through spending significant time and resources in Michigan that a win was important.

"I think Romney's biggest mistake was doubling down on Michigan as his home state, and as a result, instead of shaping the narrative, he's being driven by it," O'Connell said.

O'Connell also dismissed a suggestion by Romney supporter and Michigan GOP National Committeeman Saul Anuzis that Romney could still "win" Michigan despite a narrow loss in the popular vote by racking up more delegates via the state's district-level allocation.

"Romney really needs to win both the popular vote and the delegates in Michigan," O'Connell said. "Romney gives us the best chance to win, but the more he has to reach, grab and dig, the worse it looks for the general election."

Read more from Justin Sink at The Hill

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published this page in In The News 2012-02-28 16:00:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy