Santorum Call Could Backfire, McCain-Style
Mitt Romney will be able to slap an asterisk on Michigan results: Steve Kornacki
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2012 12:49 PM CST
Rick Santorum touches his nose as he speaks during a campaign rally, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, in Lansing, Mich.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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(Newser) – Rick Santorum's attempt to rally Michigan Democrats to his cause via a robocall makes strategic sense—he needs to do something to overcome Romney's presumably already banked lead among early voters—but it could backfire, and "give Romney an opportunity to argue that the Michigan result should come with an asterisk," warns Steve Kornacki of Salon. Just ask John McCain. George W. Bush was able to essentially sink McCain's 2000 bid by doing just that. McCain won Michigan on the backs of independents and Democrats, so Bush was able to paint him as the candidate of those groups.

"Support for Bush became a litmus test of Republican Party loyalty," and McCain was crushed on Super Tuesday. Santorum is too reliable a conservative to suffer that precise fate, but "there's now audio evidence of Santorum trying to recruit Democrats to help him against Romney—something the Romney forces will be happy to remind Republicans about going forward." And either way, Romney can paint a narrow Michigan win or loss as a win: If Santorum takes the state by a small margin, Romney can "scream that mischievous Democrats put him over the top." If a small margin favors Romney, he can argue that it would have been a bigger win had Santorum not cozied up to the left. Click for the full column.