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Romney: Santorum robocalls to Michigan Dem voters ‘disgusting’

Mitt Romney on Tuesday harshly admonished GOP rival Rick Santorum for a robocall that urged Democrats to vote for him in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary, blasting the recordings as "outrageous and disgusting."

“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,” Romney said in an interview on "Fox & Friends." “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.” 

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There had been some speculation that Democrats in Michigan planned to vote in the state’s open primary in an attempt to damage Romney, who some view as the greater threat to President Obama in the general election.

But in a robocall that went out on Monday, it was the Santorum campaign that adopted that strategy.

“I just think it’s outrageous and disgusting,” Romney continued. “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 reminiscent of the dirty tricks of the past and it’s got to end and I think Rick Santorum has a lot of explaining to do.”

Santorum defended the robocall in a Fox News interview on Monday night, saying he would need the votes of some Democrats in order to defeat Obama in the general election. 

“When he runs a robocall 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 calling Democrats who are eligible to vote here to come and vote for us, that’s a low?,” Santorum said. “Encouraging people to come and vote for us because we talk about our manufacturing plan and how we’re going to create jobs? It’s a very positive robocall.”

The speaker on the Santorum robocall informed listeners that Democrats could vote in Tuesday’s primary, and reminded voters of Romney’s opposition to the auto bailouts, which it called “a slap in the face to every Michigan worker.”

Santorum was also against the auto bailouts, but has argued on the campaign trail that his position is more consistent, because he also opposed the Wall Street bailouts.

“What he’s doing is asking Democrats to come into the Republican primary and vote against me,” Romney said. “That’s what he did. It was not a positive ad saying how he would be the best Democrat, or how he’d be lined up against big labor — look, I know he voted against Right to Work laws. I know he voted in favor of the Davis-Bacon [Act], so he’s teamed up with Big Labor before. But teaming up with Barack Obama’s people? They’re running ads as well here against me. This is a new low for his campaign and that’s saying something.”

Romney and Santorum are locked in a primary battle in Michigan that appears to be headed for a photo finish. Some polls released on Monday showed Romney with a two-point lead, while others showed Santorum with a two-point edge.

Romney grew up in Michigan and his father, George Romney, was once governor of the state, so many are calling Tuesday’s primary a must-win for the former Massachusetts governor.