Romney: ‘I’d Vote in the Democrat Primary’

By Melanie Arter | February 29, 2012 | 4:14pm EST

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, addresses supporters at his election night party in Novi, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

( - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and who said on Tuesday it was a "dirty trick" for the campaign of former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania to seek crossover votes from Democrats in the Michigan primary, told ABC News in an interview on Feb. 18, 2007 that he had often personally voted in Democratic primaries.

Romney said in 2007 that he did so as a way to help ensure that the Democrats nominated the weakest candidate.

However, in 1994, Romney told the Boston Globe he voted for former Sen. Paul Tsongas over Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary because, as the Globe put it, "he favored [Tsongas's] ideas over those of Bill Clinton."

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On the Feb. 18, 2007 edition of ABC News's "This Week," host George Stephanopoulos asked Romney about his 1992 vote for Tsongas.

“Let me talk about your political journey. You were an independent, registered independent, in the 1980s. You voted for Paul Tsongas, a Democrat, in the 1992 primaries. Now you describe yourself as a Reagan Republican,” Stephanopoulos said.

“Kind of a mischaracterization," Romney responded. "In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can you vote in either the Republican or Democratic 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,” said Romney. "In the general election--"

“So that was a way of supporting President Bush? Is that what you're saying?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Look," said Romney, "I've taken every occasion to vote against Ted Kennedy--he's a good friend--but Ted Kennedy and Tip O'Neill, they're my congressman and senator. I go in their primary, just like a lot of other folks, and voted against the person who I thought was the strongest Democrat. Now, that happens in America today.

“But let me tell you," Romney continued, "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,” Romney said.

When Romney announced that the was running for the U.S. Senate in 1992, however, he told a different story about his 1992 Democratic presidential primary vote for Tsongas, according to the Boston Globe.

In a story headlined, "GOP's Romney declares, says Kennedy out of date," reporters Scot Lehigh and Frank Phillips of the Globe reported:"Romney confirmed he voted for former US Sen. Paul Tsongas in the state's 1992 Democratic presidential primary, saying he did so both because Tsongas was from Massachusetts and because he favored his ideas over those of Bill Clinton. He added that he had been sure the GOP would renominate George Bush, for whom he voted in the fall election."

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Romney chided GOP rival Rick Santorum for seeking the support of Democratic voters in Michigan's open presidential primary.

“The hardest thing about predicting what’s going to happen today is whether Senator Santorum’s effort to call Democrat households and tell them to come out and vote against Mitt Romney is going to be successful or not,” Romney said.

“I think Republicans have to recognize there’s a real effort to kidnap our primary process, and if we want Republicans to nominate the Republican who takes on Barack Obama, I need Republicans to get out and vote and said no to the dirty tricks of a desperate campaign,” the former Massachusetts governor added.

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