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Michigan showdown: Santorum targeted Democrats with robo calls

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Mitt Romney's campaign complained that rival Rick Santorum's team was running robo calls in Michigan asking Democrats to vote for Santorum. The direct appeal to Democrats to invade the GOP primary came late in the game, as polls showed Romney and Santorum heading to a photo-finish in the state Romney was raised. Santorum said the robo-call was "very positive."

What is a robo call: A tape recorded message--sometimes by the candidate or a famous supporter--sent via a telephone call that starts automatically as soon as the person answers the phone. Campaigns use them because that can be targeted to very specific audiences.

On Tuesday morning, Romney communications chief Andrea Saul sent around a clip from FOX News "Hannity" show where Sean Hannity presses Santorum about the calls.

"In case you missed it, you can watch Sen. Santorum's lousy defense of using deceptive robo-calls and taking a page out of the Democrat's playbook here:," Saul said in her note.

SEAN HANNITY: "And joining me on in this primary eve from Michigan is presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. I'm not sure if you were able to hear Governor Romney. He complained about a robo call that he says your campaign is running. I believe this is the one he was talking about. I want to give you a chance to respond."

RoboCall Audio: "On Tuesday join Democrats who are going to send a loud message to Massachusetts' Mitt Romney by voting for Rick Santorum for President. This call is supported by hard working Democratic men and women and paid for by Rick Santorum for President."

HANNITY: "He said it was a low moment in the campaign, and I figured I would give you a chance to respond."

SANTORUM: "Oh, you mean when he runs a robo call of my voice from four years ago saying good things about him, that's not a low moment? And when I run a call basically saying - calling Democrats that are eligible to vote here to vote for us, that's a low point -- encouraging people to come and vote for us, because we talk about our manufacturing plan and what we are going to do to create jobs, it's a very positive robo call, talking about what we are doing to create jobs here in Michigan. Of course, you know, it's interesting that we criticize me for attracting democrats because one of the things that Governor Romney's people say is oh, he can't attract Democrats. Well, guess what? We will wait and see. I think we can. And that's one of the things that's got them nervous. We've got a lot of folks in this state that are looking at our plan and looking at the ideas we have to get the manufacturing sector of this economy growing again here in Michigan that are very excited about maybe having Rick Santorum on that ticket."

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 28, 2012 6:56 AM.

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