Citing Change in Michigan Delegate Count, Santorum Campaign Calls Romney Campaign ‘Desperate’

Mar 1, 2012 8:47pm

The Santorum campaign just held a conference call to dispute a meeting the Michigan Republican Party held Wednesday night that changed the rules, breaking a delegate tie that awarded 15 delegates each to Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Two at-large delegates are now allocated to Romney. Now Romney has 16 delegates; Santorum, 14.

Santorum national communications director Hogan Gidley said the meeting was “unannounced” and “behind closed doors.” According to the party’s rules, written Feb. 4, there would be proportional allocation of the two at-large delegates, but that was changed in the meeting to winner-take-all.  Romney had edged out Santorum in the popular vote 41% to 38%, so he got both at-large delegates.

John Yob, who headed up the Santorum campaign’s Michigan strategy, explained that the party voted 4 to 2 to change the rules and he said the four that did vote to change it were Romney supporters, including party chair Bob Schostak, said to be a Romney backer although he hasn’t announced publicly.

“They vote four to two to change the rules that were previously approved to give Mitt Romney a win in his home state, rather than a tie in his home state, essentially because he was being embarrassed by it being a tie,” Yob said.

Ohio Attorney General and former Romney supporter Mike DeWine unleashed on the Romney campaign. “This is a very sad commentary on the Romney campaign that for one delegate they would break the rules and they would risk tearing a state party apart over one delegate,” DeWine said, calling the campaign “desperate.”

DeWine also said his wife had received a robo-call “lambasting Santorum” from someone identified as “Mike.”

“I can guarantee you it was not this Mike,” DeWine said. “They will do anything and say anything to try and get this nomination and they are very desperate.”

Campaign senior strategist John Brabender pointed out that one of the two who voted against the rule change was Romney supporter and former Attorney General Mike Cox. Yob said on the call he works as the general counsel for the party. “I have this crazy idea that you follow the rules,” Cox said, according to the Associated Press. “I’d love to give the at-large delegates to Mitt Romney, but our rules provide for strict apportionment.”

Brabender said “most people in Michigan and the country” understand that rules should not be changed after voting, adding that happens “maybe in Iran or other countries,” but not here.

In response to the Santorum campaign’s charges, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul wrote in an email to ABC News: ”Rick Santorum encouraged Democrats in Michigan to hijack the Republican Primary. Because his strategy failed and Mitt Romney won, he is now attacking the Republican Party.  The Romney campaign respects the process as determined by the Michigan state party, and we are pleased that we have been awarded a majority of the delegates. We are now focused on the upcoming contests.”

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