Michigan State GOP Awards Romney At-Large Delegates

Rick Santorum's camp furious over change in delegate rules.

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The Michigan Republican party officially awarded Mitt Romney the victory in their state's primary contest on Thursday. Romney, who took the popular vote in Michigan by just under 40,000 votes, won the state delegate count 16-14 over Rick Santorum.

[See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

The day after the vote, Santorum expressed that he believed Michigan's delegates would be split, 15-15, because both he and Romney won seven of Michigan's congressional districts. In the end, it wasn't so simple.

According to state GOP rules, each of Michigan's 14 districts is worth two delegates, leaving another two that are considered "at-large." There was confusion over how those two delegates would be awarded, as initially the state GOP said they would be awarded proportionally according to the statewide vote. That would have resulted in the tie Santorum thought was coming.

In an e-mail to reporters, Santorum's communications director Hogan Gidley expressed the campaign's frustration with the results.

[Santorum Blames Early Ballots for Michigan Loss.]

"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 manage a tie Rick Santorum," Gidley says. "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 and political thuggery just cannot and should not happen in America."

According to the Associated Press, last night the Michigan Republican Party Credentials Committee decided to change the way the state would award the at-large delegates. In a 4-2 vote, they gave both to Romney. Matt Frendewey, director of communications for the Michigan Republican Party, told NBC today that the at-large delegate confusion is the result of a penalty from the Republican National Committee. The RNC will only allow 30 delegates from Michigan because the state decided to hold their nominating contest before March 1, the earliest date the RNC said they were allowed to hold a vote.

"The two RNC recognized delegates are assigned to the candidate that wins the most votes," Frendewey said.