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Toughen up, Mitt-ercup; Update: Guess who pushed for Michigan’s open primary? Hint: Rhymes with “snit” and “fit”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 28, 2012 10:44 AM

Call the waaaaahmbulance. Mitt Romney is railing against Rick Santorum for robocalls calling attention to his TARP bailout support/auto bailout flip-flop.

Romney is decrying the robocalls aimed at Democrats as “outrageous” and “disgusting” and a “terrible dirty trick.”

Today’s Michigan primary is an open primary.

Inconvenient truth: There’s nothing “dirty” and there’s no “trick” in playing by the rules set by the states. Seventeen states have open primaries. (Think the rules should be changed? Go for it. But not in the middle of the game.) One of those 17 states with open primaries is Massachusetts. And among the many voters who have crossed over to influence the outcome of an open primary is…Mitt Romney.

The Romney campaign has been denouncing Democratic efforts – and now those by Rick Santorum – to get Democrats to vote in Michigan’s open primary.

Mitt Romney himself called it a “new low” in politics in a round of TV interviews.

“President Obama’s reelection team is now actively engaged in changing the outcome of the Republican primary,” declared Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades in an email to the campaign’s list. “This is politics at its worst. It doesn’t get much more pathetic.”

Yet Romney himself gave a similar explanation in his last presidential run for why he crossover voted in in the 1990s in Massachusetts, per this ABC News clip:

ABC News’ Jonathan Greenberger Reports: Republican presidential candididate Mitt Romney offered a new explanation today for why he supported a Democrat in 1992.

That year, Romney, then a registered independent, voted for former Sen. Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary. He told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, in an interview that will air Sunday on “This Week,” that his vote was meant as a tactical maneuver aimed at finding the weakest opponent for incumbent President George H.W. Bush.

“In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary,” said Romney, who until he made an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1994 had spent his adult life as a registered independent. “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.”

Well, this year, there’s a “real contest” in the “Republican primary” and Rick Santorum is fighting for every vote — as any candidate intent on winning should.

Mitt Romney’s longtime argument is that he, not Santorum, is best equipped to appeal to the very Reagan Democrats that Rick Santorum is wooing.

Yet, in the state he considers his “home state” and where he has desperately outspent Santorum by 3-to-1, tonight’s outcome is “too close to call.”

If Romney can’t put away Santorum and can’t handle a run-of-the-mill robocall, how is he going to handle Team Obama’s Chicago goons and the Democrat deacons of truly dirty tricks?

***

Update Whoopsie, Part II! Guess whose backers pushed for Michigan’s open primary? Rhymes with “snit” and “fit.”

Via Kurt Rand at Rebel Pundit via Dan Collins on Twitter:

According to a Michigan Republican State Committee (MRSC) member, Romney backers in statewide Republican leadership roles, including the governor and attorney general, pushed for an open Michigan primary. These open primary rules allow voters to vote in either party’s primary without declaring any party affiliation.

As the governing body of the state Republican Party in Michigan, the state committee every four years determines the methodology of awarding delegates in the presidential contest. Although Michigan voters are not registered according to party affiliation, political parties can take steps to make it more difficult for political opponents to have a say in the candidate nominating process. Such options include selecting delegates through a state caucus or state convention. In those circumstances, the Republican Party enjoys great leeway in deciding who can vote.

The Michigan Republican State Committee chose a different route—a completely open Republican primary. Such a primary is funded by the state and requires approval from the legislature and the governor. The occurrence of cross-over party voting is minimal in a presidential election year with two non-incumbent candidates. Members of both parties are enthusiastic in having a say in selecting a party nominee. This year, however, the Democrat Party in Michigan chose not hold a primary. Instead, a caucus will be held later this year, almost surely approving Barrack Obama as nominee.

Even with a primary, parties can diminish the occurrence of cross-over voting by requiring voters to sign a document affirming they are a Republican. Such a document would be entered into the public record. According to our source, the state committee members were informed prior to the adoption of the primary rules that Governor Snyder, a Romney endorser, would only support a public primary with no party affiliation. To be clear this meant that a voter could cast a ballot in the Republican primary with no previous party affiliation and without any need to disclose his identification with the Republican Party even on election day!

Governor Snyder’s staff whipped Republican statewide legislators into line on the open primary option. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, Romney’s current state chair, joined the governor in whipping Republican elected officials into line on this. Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, another prominent Romney supporter, joined in this concerted effort to achieve an open primary in 2012, communicating to every state committee member the governor’s position. Saul Anuzis, Republican national committee-man for Michigan and Romney supporter, also played a significant role in building support for the open primary.

According to our source, “with a large TNT bomb they blew the door off the hinges to allow Democrats to come in and vote today.” Who opposed this open primary rule? According to the MRSC member we talked to, die hard conservatives voted NO on the open primary because they knew anything other than a caucus or convention could allow liberals and Democrats to play a large role in selecting the Republican nominee. In the end, Romney’s supporters on the committee from Wayne County and Oakland County won out, believing the influx of Democrats and independents would boost Romney’s performance.

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