Santorum Campaign Won’t Admit Robocalls To Democrats Backfired

And they say they’re not preparing for the Romney campaign’s plans to make it more of an issue.

JIM YOUNG / Reuters

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — The Santorum campaign is defending their robocalls to Democratic voters in Michigan, which Mitt Romney made a central issue of his Michigan campaign, calling them “dirty tricks.” And Santorum’s aides say they’re not preparing a counterattack against the Romney campaign’s plans to keep hitting them on the issue of the calls.

The robocalls have been seen as something of a flop — attracting too much attention and not turning out enough Democrats to actually tip the scales in favor of Santorum. But two high-level campaign staffers defended the calls and downplayed the controversy surrounding them.

Santorum spokeswoman Alice Stewart said the campaign isn’t concerned about the Romney side’s plans to make the calls more of an issue in the run-up to Super Tuesday.

“I mean, anybody can call anybody,” Stewart said. “The point of us calling them in this particular race is that it’s open to Republicans and Democrats.”

She didn’t rule out the possibility of more calls in that vein. “In terms of what we do next in terms of making those particular kinds of calls, we’ll decide that in the next few days.”

Consultant John Brabender said that his candidate “always is going to have to struggle by responding to misperceptions that are out there.”

Brabender said that the robocalls worked, and that “it’s also possible that one of the reasons we’re doing well in a lot of these congressional districts, particularly some of the democratic congressional districts, is that it turned out blue collar Democrats who appeal to Rick Santorum’s message decided to come out and vote for Rick Santorum.”

These were “blue collar Reagan conservatives who do not buy the Barack Obama liberal agenda and do not buy the Wall Street mentality of Mitt Romney,” he said.

In an email to supporters today, the Romney campaign blasted the calls to Democrats as “Rick Santorum’s pathetic tag team efforts to recruit liberal Democrats in the Republican primary.” And a Romney aide told BuzzFeed last night that the campaign might even try to work the issue into Romney’s stump speech going forward.

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