Rick Santorum told The Weekly Standard that as the fight over the soul of the Republican Party wages on, he would be “open” to running for president again in 2016.
The former senator from Pennsylvania said Mitt Romney lost the presidential race this year because the party didn’t focus on the role of government in the lives of Americans, or put forth a viable populist economic and social message.
Santorum on Monday repeated on CNN that he may be willing to embark on another run for the White House, but that at the moment his focus was on the work Congress is engaged in and his organization, Patriot Voices.
"But we're a long way [away from 2016]," he said. "I'm focused right now on trying to stay involved in the fray and make sure that we do the right thing up on Capitol Hill right now."
The GOP could have fared better in the election with a more suitable candidate and a focus on economic and social issues that would have appealed to voters in the Midwest, Santorum said.
He believes that if the focus of the race had been on the main issue of how big a role government should play in people’s lives, Republicans — even Romney — may have fared better against President Barack Obama.
“We didn’t make that argument in this race,” he said. “Our candidate didn’t make that argument, as some of us said during the campaign, because he was not capable of making that argument.”
“In my opinion, what could have been and what should have been a referendum election on what it means to be an American, what it means for us as a country to head down the road toward European socialism, we just simply didn’t make the argument at a time when I think America was ripe to hear the argument.”
Santorum was the closest challenger to Romney during the Republican primaries, winning 11 states and four million votes, but pulled out in April after his daughter, Isabella, was hospitalized for pneumonia and he lost races in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Following the end of his primary run, Santorum took two months off before founding Patriot Voices, a nonprofit group that seeks to promote conservative economic and social values.
“We’re going to talk about all of the issues with an emphasis on cultural issues,” he said.
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