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Rick Santorum: Robocall an appeal to ‘conservative Reagan Democrats’

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This story has been updated.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is defending his campaign’s Michigan robocall urging Democrats to vote for him in Tuesday’s primary, arguing that the automated call is part of an effort to

Joe Raedle

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Republican presidential candidate, former senator Rick Santorum speaks during a campaign stop at the St. Mary's Cultural & Banquet Center on Monday, in Livonia, Mich.

woo conservatives, not liberals.

“I’m appealing to conservatives to vote for me — that would be a dirty trick for Mitt Romney, I guess,” Santorum said when asked about Romney’s charge that the call was a “dirty trick.”

“We are calling on conservatives to vote for someone who stands for creating jobs,” Santorum said. “We are asking conservative Reagan Democrats to come out and vote for us. That’s exactly what we need to win. I’m not out there running as a moderate. I’m out there running as a conservative and proud of it.”

Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Romney, responded that Reagan “brought Democrats into the Republican Party by promoting the same pro-growth policies and conservative values that Governor Romney wants to bring back to the White House.”

“Rick Santorum is trying to lure Democrats into a Republican Primary by co-opting the language used by President Obama and his liberal labor allies to attack Governor Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout,” he said. “This dishonest comparison reminds voters that Rick Santorum is a Washington insider who will do and say anything to win an election.”

Staff writer Felicia Sonmez also contributed to this story.

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