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Rick Santorum Campaign: Michigan Primary A Tie

First Posted: 02/29/2012 12:59 pm Updated: 02/29/2012 2:29 pm

Rick Santorum campaign adviser John Brabender said Wednesday the Michigan primary was a virtual tie in delegates, citing results online but not any official data from the state's Republican primary.

"I heard that there's a Lansing [Mich.] paper that put out it showed it was a virtual tie," Brabender said in a call with reporters about the primary results. "I have not seen that myself, but someone from our campaign shared that with me. ... These are the reports we're getting and I understand that I'm not giving you hard data."

The call was held to try to shift the narrative on the Tuesday Michigan primary, in which former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney narrowly beat former Sen. Santorum (R-Pa.). Brabender insisted that the two men had received the same number of delegates in the state.

But Brabender gave little proof, citing online reports vaguely. He later implied that the Michigan Republican Party might slant their results because some people there support Romney, but said the Michigan Secretary of State had not confirmed those claims.

"We're also trying to avoid another Iowa, where the reports show out that Mitt Romney wins the election and then the facts bear out that actually Rick Santorum wins," Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley said on the press call, referring to Santorum's eventual win in the state where Romney was first called the winner.

Gidley added that equal delegates could paint a "much different picture" than reports from Tuesday night.

Brabender said he had seen no anecdotal evidence of liberal Democrats voting in the Michigan primary simply to extend the race and hurt Republicans, which some believe may have been the reason for a higher than expected Democratic turnout. Instead, Brabender said those who voted were the "Reagan Democrats" targeted by the campaign in robocalls this week, despite Santorum's previous insistence that only Republicans should be allowed to influence the nomination process.

"Frankly I think it may have very well been a failure by the Romney campaign not to figure that out, that if it's a highly Democratic congressional district but you still get delegates then you better be talking to some of those delegates, or some of those Democrats," Brabender said, adding that the Santorum campaign spent "no more than a couple thousand dollars" on the effort.

The entire Michigan result was a "disaster" for Romney, Brabender said.

"Despite outspending us by a great amount of money, despite the fact that this is Mitt Romney's home turf, as you will, his home state, for this to end up as a tie, I think, can only be seen as a disaster for Mitt Romney," he said.

Of course, it is also good politics for the Santorum campaign to insist that the Michigan results should be seen as a tie, especially as the race moves to Super Tuesday next week. Brabender said they expect good results on March 6, although he added that delegates are more important than winning full states, implying that it would also be helpful if former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) -- considered Santorum's conservative opponent -- left the race.

"What we're finding happening is that even though there is more than one conservative, or at least quasi-conservative, in the race," Brabender said, "if people are starting to see that as a one-on-one match-up, we think that is the worst nightmare for Mitt Romney."

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