Santorum stumps for conservatism in Pennsylvania

By Andrew Staub | PA Independent

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum took the stage at this past weekend’s Pennsylvania Leadership Conference to cheers, whistles and applause, and he didn’t disappoint the friendly crowd with a message that challenged Obama, touched upon the importance of family and included stories from his 2012 presidential run.

Santorum didn’t say whether he would run again, but his words felt much like a stump speech — at least for his party’s ideals — as the audience latched onto his words during the annual conservative gathering.

THINKING IT OVER: Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum is still considering a 2016 presidential bid after losing out to Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination in 2012.

While walking briskly to a television appearance, Santorum would say only that he is “seriously” examining a presidential run in 2016. And he didn’t commit to anything as fans greeted him after his speech.

Santorum won 11 states in 2012, even after suffering a crushing defeat while seeking a third term as one of Pennsylvania’s senators in 2006.

GOP history would indicate Santorum is the next candidate up after finishing behind Mitt Romney in 2012, but he tied for just fifth place with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll that was won by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Though Santorum didn’t address his intentions in his speech, he urged Republicans to avoid straying too far left in their attempts to win elections. That strategy, he said, has cost conservatives and allowed liberals to gain ground.

“One of the reasons we are not winning is because we are not doing our job,” Santorum said.

Santorum also thinks the Republican Party has a problem with its message.

“Our message is cut taxes for the high-income individuals, cut benefits for low-income individuals and balance the budget,” he said. “Now, I’m not necessarily opposed to those principles, but it’s a lousy message because you’re leaving out a whole bunch of people in the middle, who when you talk, say, ‘What about me? Where do I come into any of this?’ ”

Part of the problem, Santorum said, is the GOP is “so stuck on policies, we refuse to talk about people.” Much of the time, that means talking about job creation and small business, he said.

“All those are good things, but most Americans are not job creators. Most Americans are not small business people or corporate CEOs. They’re job holders,” Santorum said.

While the Democratic Party pits business people versus their workers, conservatives must put forth a message of unity and show they care about voters, Santorum said.

He also pointed to the impact of his decision to leave Florida in advance of the state’s primary after his daughter fell ill. He swept three states not long after that.

“We have to be less in your face and more living it out,” Santorum said.

Andrew Staub is a reporter for PA Independent and can be reached at Andrew@PAIndependent.com. Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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