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Posted at 04:04 PM ET, 03/01/2012

Santorum camp accuses Michigan GOP of ‘political thuggery’ in awarding delegates to Romney

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s campaign is accusing Michigan Republicans of engaging in “political thuggery” for awarding the state’s two at-large delegates to Mitt Romney (R) instead of dividing
Republican presidential candidates (L-R) former U.S. senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. (JESSICA RINALDI - Reuters)
them evenly between both candidates.

Romney won Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in the Wolverine State with 41 percent to Santorum’s 38 percent. Each candidate won 7 of the state’s 14 congressional districts, evenly splitting the 28 of Michigan’s national convention delegates that are awarded winner-take-all by district.

There has been confusion over how the remaining two at-large delegates were to be awarded. Originally, the state GOP had announced that those two delegates would be allocated proportionally based on the statewide vote – meaning Romney and Santorum would each get one.

But the state Republican Party’s credentials committee voted Wednesday night to award both delegates to Romney, the Detroit Free Press reports.

And Saul Anuzis, a former state party chairman and Romney backer who sits on the credentials committee, said in a statement Thursday that “regrettably, there was an error in the memo drafted and sent to the respective campaigns” about how the delegates were to be awarded and that the original plan approved by the panel earlier this month was to award the two delegates to the winner of the statewide vote.

Hogan Gidley, a spokesman for the former Pennsylvania senator, said Thursday that “there’s just no way this is happening.”

“We’ve all heard rumors that Mitt Romney was furious that he spent a fortune in his home state, had all the political establishment connections and could only tie Rick Santorum,” Gidley said in a statement. “But we never thought the Romney campaign would try to rig the outcome of an election by changing the rules after the vote. This kind of back room dealing political thuggery just cannot and should not happen in America.”

It’s worth noting that the two delegates are only a tiny fraction of the 1,143 a GOP candidate will need to win in order to clinch the nomination. Still, if the race goes down to the wire, every delegate could matter.

It was only Wednesday that Romney’s camp was the one crying foul, accusing Santorum of “cheating” by launching robocalls in Michigan encouraging Democrats to back him in the GOP primary.

Thursday afternoon, Romney’s camp said that it abides by the decision of the Michigan Republican Party and is “now focused on the upcoming contests” on Super Tuesday.

“Rick Santorum encouraged Democrats in Michigan to hijack the Republican Primary,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement. “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.”

By  |  04:04 PM ET, 03/01/2012

 
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