Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that Republicans “must have the message and the policies that truly level the playing field, get government out of picking winners and losers, and lift up both owners and workers” if it wants to win the White House in the future.
“We need to look to leaders in our party to emerge and solidify around this message,” the former Pennsylvania senator said in an opinion piece published on Saturday in USA Today
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Santorum, who now heads the Patriot Voices group, said that the recent scandals that have engulfed the Obama White House “display the president's failure to be a different kind of leader. But Republicans cannot just rely on the letdown of the Obama administration.”
He cited exit polls from the 2012 election that showed Obama registered with voters because they felt that he “cares about me” — in other words he fills a so-called “empathy gap.”
“Republican rhetoric focuses on business creators without making the connection to the average American,” Santorum said. “Furthermore, the establishment Republican policies have cooperated with Democrats to use the government to reward big businesses and big banks at the expense of these job creators.
“But Republicans often don't even talk about those who work in those businesses: the cooks, technicians, welders, truck drivers, administrative assistants, middle managers, laborers, and all the other good and honorable jobs that are the foundations of these companies.
“These employees also make the American economy run, and there are a lot more of them than employers.
“We need to talk with them — and to them,” Santorum added. “Our policies must address their interests, and I don't mean just economic interests. True empathy is conveyed by message, messenger, and action.”
He added that “the Republican establishment dismisses such ‘populism’ just like they dismissed our 2012 presidential campaign.”
Even though former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lost the election, the GOP candidate won 11 states because “we resonated with Middle America,” Santorum said.
“Our campaign focused on American-first principles: the family as a key economic unit and economic opportunity for those struggling during this difficult time. We talked about manufacturing, technical training, tax breaks for working families, and a patient-centered healthcare system.”
Santorum added that another set of exit polls, these during the GOP presidential primary in Pennsylvania, showed that he was most favored by citizens “voting on their way home from work.
“Those are the voters up for grabs in America today, irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, or any other ‘demographic indicators,’” Santorum concluded. “They know that the president's promises of government taking care of their every need are a farce, but they don't see anyone else talking about or to them. Nor do they see policies that move the needle in their lives.”
In an interview later on Saturday with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Fox News, Santorum said that he was joining EchoLight Studios, a faith-and-family film production company, as its CEO.
The studio’s films include “Seasons of Gray,” a modern retelling of the Old Testament story of Joseph and his coat of many colors, and the western “The Redemption of Henry Myers.”
“Politics is a very important avenue, and I am still involved in it,” Santorum told Huckabee. “But the culture is very, very important.
“The storytellers for this country have not been storytellers sharing the values that you and I support. We need people out there who are going to be purveyors of good, positive content.”
He also said that he would not support the sweeping immigration reform bill currently being debated in the U.S. Senate because it placed illegal immigrants “on the same footing” as legals.
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“I take the common-sense approach that people who come to this country — as my father did as an immigrant and my grandfather did as an immigrant — should not be treated the same as people who came here and broke the law,” Santorum said.
And the former senator said that his group, Patriot Voices, did not seek tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service when it was formed last year because its counsel, the respected elections attorney Cleta Mitchell, said that the agency was targeting conservative, religious and tea party groups.
Mitchell told Newsmax last month that she had tangible proof that top IRS officials in Washington were fully aware of the agency's campaign to target such groups for heightened scrutiny, despite their denials.
“She told us that the IRS was targeting these groups and ‘they’re going to run you through the wringer,’” Santorum told Huckabee. “Her advice to us was: ‘Take a step back, let this thing clear out a little bit, maybe they’ll change their tune.’
“They haven’t changed their tune at all,” he added. “That’s the amazing thing about this. They are continuing to do it. They haven’t changed a bit.”
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