Santorum: GOP Leaders 'Don't Reflect Who We Are'

Image: Santorum: GOP Leaders 'Don't Reflect Who We Are'

Friday, 14 Jun 2013 09:45 AM

By Courtney Coren

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Former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum criticized his Republican Party Thursday, telling a conservative audience that GOP leaders do not "accurately reflect who we are."

Speaking at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s "Road to Majority" conference in Washington, Santorum said Republicans should stop talking to CEOs and "talk to the folks who are worried about the next paycheck," Politico reports.

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"Our leaders don't accurately reflect who we are," he said. "They reflect the interest groups around here who are lobbying for an advantage. Everyone who is up here is wanting an edge for their company or their industry. We've got to get away from that."

Reflecting on last year's presidential campaign, Santorum took issue with the way Mitt Romney and the party handled President Barack Obama's "You didn't build that" gaffe.

He never mentioned Romney by name, but he said the party's leaders should have invited more working-class individuals to speak at the national convention in Tampa instead of parading business leaders to talk about how they built their own companies, Politico reported.

"One after another, they talked about the business they had built. But not a single, not a single, factory worker went out there," he said. "Not a single janitor, waitress or person who worked in that company! We didn't care about them. You know what? They built that company, too! And we should have had them on that stage."

"When all you do is talk to people who are owners, talk to folks who are Type A's who want to succeed economically, we're talking about a very small group of people," Santorum said. "No wonder they don't think we care about them. No wonder they don't think we understand them.

"Folks, if we're going to win, you just need to think about who you talk to in your life."

Santorum also suggested that even nominating Romney was a mistake because Obamacare was modeled after the former Massachusetts governor's own state healthcare initiative, Politico reports.

He reminded the audience of several hundred people that GOP opposition to Obamacare drove voters to the polls in 2010 and helped the party take back the House of Representatives.

"I won't go back and revisit why that was the case or who the better candidate was to do that, but suffice it to say the opportunity is going to present itself in the next year," he said, noting that concerns over Obamacare still could help Republicans make gains in 2014.

He called on Republicans to be more outspoken about problems with the healthcare law.

"Why are they not sounding the alarm?" he asked. "Why are we not getting ahead of this train?"

Other speakers echoed some of Santorum's concerns.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Romney rival in the 2008 presidential campaign, agreed the GOP needs to reach out more to "the average person Rick Santorum is talking about."

"He is so absolutely right," Huckabee said. "The Republican message is often so horizontally presented that people often get lost in that spectrum."

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