Mitt Romney flip flops again. Today Romney told Fox and Friends that it was “outrageous and disgusting” for Santorum to try to get Michigan Democrats to vote in Republican primaries in order to push the seemingly unelectable Rick Santorum to the top.
Rick Santorum, who doesn’t support bailouts of the auto companies or Wall Street, jumped on board the already existing Operation Hilarity, and is using Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout to court Michigan Democrats in a robocall supported by the Santorum for President committee.
Cue the clown car driving right over the cliff. Here’s Mitt Romney’s outrage on Fox today:
Romney protested, “Well, it’s a dirty trick. It’s outrageous to see Rick Santorum team up with the Obama people and go out after union labor in Detroit and try to get them to vote against me. Look, we don’t want Democrats deciding who our nominee is going to be, we want Republicans deciding who our nominee is going to be. I know why Obama doesn’t want me to face him, but I just think it’s outrageous and disgusting, a terrible dirty trick at the last hour, by the way, late in the afternoon on the day before the election, maybe hoping no one would notice, they start sending out calls to Democrats, union members, telling them to go into the Republican primary and vote against Mitt Romney. This is — this is reminiscent of the dirty tricks in the past and it’s got to end and I think Rick Santorum has a lot of explaining to do.”
But at the Florida debates in January of this year, Mitt Romney defended his own history of voting for Democrats as a dirty strategy afforded to him as a registered independent, claiming he never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot, “(I)n my state of Massachusetts, you could register as an independent and go vote in (whichever) primary happens to be very interesting. And any chance I got to vote against Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy, I took. …”
Of course, that’s not exactly true either. PolitFact rules Romney’s statement as never having voted for a Democrat when a Republican was on the ballot as half true. Sigh. Listen here to the Santorum robocall courtesy of Talking Points Memo:
The fact that Santorum is trying to court “Reagan Democrats” in Michigan is an indication that the Santorum campaign has no idea just how far the Republican Party has tilted right since the heady days of Reagan. Reagan Democrats are a thing of the past. What polls show is that there are now Obama Republicans.
But what makes Santorum’s use of the auto bailout against Mitt Romney even more disingenuous is that Santorum doesn’t support the auto bailout either. Santorum says both bailouts of Wall Street and the auto companies were wrong.
Digging into the muck even further, Mitt Romney often tries to claim credit for President Obama’s successful auto bailout, moving the goal post until he can assert that Obama basically took his idea.
The truth is that Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt and he blamed unions for the failure of the auto companies, but somehow did not blame the rich boys of Wall Street for their failures or point a finger at the rich auto company CEO’s. Romney should know better, hailing from Michigan and furthermore, having a father who saved an auto company by cutting CEO salaries by 35% in hard times.
The Republican primaries are turning into a bloody battle with Rick Santorum thinking he can court Michigan Democrats not only for the primary but also for the general election. Santorum’s dirty tactics only serve to smear the establishment’s assumed golden boy, Romney, and cast further doubt on whether Romney can give Obama a fight.
The manufacturing base, to which Santorum is trying to appeal, will be a deciding vote in 2012 and winning their support will be an indicator of strength if Santorum can pull it off in the Michigan primary. However, with the mischief-makers afloat (Daily Kos’s Operation Hilarity underway ), a Santorum win in Michigan will not necessarily translate to his ability to get that same support in a general election.
Yesterday, I spoke with a Michigander who is a former Independent leaning Republican voter turned Obama voter in 2008 to get a sense of her feel for the Republican candidates. She said Rick Santorum “frightened” her, and while she would never vote for Mitt Romney, she’s afraid to push Rick Santorum because the idea of him winning the White House by some fluke was too terrifying to contemplate.
This Catholic woman actually used the word “evil” to describe Rick Santorum. Her thinking offers insight into what makes an Obama Republican or Obama Independent. While she does not agree with Obama on everything, she sees that he’s trying to fix things, whereas the Republicans have turned into a circus of obstruction and cynical, ugly politics of race and fear.
If Santorum wins Michigan tonight, it will say more about Michiganders’ long-standing bitterness toward their home state betrayer, Mitt Romney, than it will about Rick Santorum in a general election. But even if the race is as close as it appears right now in polling, it tolls nothing but bad news for the Republican Party, whose desire for a last minute White Knight candidate is palpable.
Mitt Romney grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth thanks to the auto companies in Michigan, and when they needed help, he turned his nose up at them and gleefully announced that they should be allowed to die. In a state where almost everyone’s income is impacted by the auto industry (from realtors to line workers), this kind of betrayal won’t soon be forgotten and Mitt’s attempt to co-opt Michigan voters by announcing that he and his wife drive four American cars, two of which are Cadillacs, only drives the knife in further.
As Rick Santorum goes dirty on his equally dirty Republican opponent in a game of who can mislead the public the most about their policies in order to appeal to union members and Democrats, the Republican Party and indeed, American voters, mourn the loss of a viable Republican candidate.