"It's outrageous and disgusting."
These are the words Mitt Romney is using to describe Rick Santorum's calls to Democrats to vote in today's "open" GOP primary in Michigan, the state where he grew up and his father served as an auto executive and governor.
"I just think it's outrageous and 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," he said.
But Santorum says he's just trying to attract the Democratic voters he'll need in a general election campaign.
With polls in Michigan suggesting a tight race between Romney and Santorum, victory could be determined in part by Democrats, independents and union workers eager to cross over and cause mischief in today's "open" Republican presidential primary.
According to a Michigan Republican State Committee (MRSC) member, Romney backers in statewide Republican leadership roles, including the governor and attorney general, pushed for an open Michigan primary.
Conservative Republicans opposed the open primary, but Romney's team was convinced that they would benefit from liberal crossover support.
And, during his 2008 White House bid, it was revealed that Romney voted for Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic primaries.
"When there was no real contest in the Republican primary, I'd vote in the Democrat primary, vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponent for a Republican," Romney explained at the time.
Romney was asked again today about his vote for Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic primaries.
"It’s very different running for -- being a candidate for president, buying ads, and telling Democrats to go, to go mess into a Republican primary and to vote against me," Romney responded.
"In my case, I was certainly voting against the Democrat who I thought was the person I thought would be the worst leader of our nation. In this case, as I recall, it was Bill Clinton. I wanted someone other than Bill Clinton. And certainly and against -- I voted against Ted Kennedy, Tip O’Neill, and Bill Clinton. It seemed like a good group to be against."