As Mitt Romney criticizes Rick Santorum for encouraging Democrats to vote in today's Michigan GOP primary -- "I think Republicans have to recognize there's a real effort to kidnap our primary process," he said today -- it is worth remembering that Romney said he voted for a Democrat in the 1992 primaries to help the GOP.
Rebecca Cook / Reuters
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets supporters during a stop at his Michigan campaign headquarters in Livonia February 28, 2012.
During his '08 White House bid, it was revealed that Romney voted for Paul Tsongas (D) in the 1992 Democratic primaries. Romney's explanation at the time: "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."
Here's the transcript from a Feb. 18, 2007 ABC interview:
ABC: Let me talk about your political journey. You were an independent, a registered independent in the 1980s. You voted for Paul Tsongas as Democrat in the 1992 primaries. Now you've describe yourself as a Reagan Republican.
MITT ROMNEY: Kind of a mischaracterization. In Massachusetts if you register as an independent you can you vote on either the Republican or Democrat primary. 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… But let me tell you, in the general election, I don't recall ever once voting for anyone other than a Republican. So, yeah, as an independent I'll go in and play in their primary but I'm a Republican and have been through my life. I was with Young Republicans when I was in college back at Stanford. But a registered independent so I could vote in either primary.
At his press avail today, Romney was asked about his vote for Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic primaries.
Romney responded: "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."
He continued, "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."