Santorum announces White House bid to blue-collar crowd

Campaign 2016
by Kent Covington
Posted 5/28/15, 08:12 am

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum launched his second White House bid on Wednesday, promising to bolster U.S. manufacturing and put working-class Americans back to work.

In keeping with the theme, Santorum announced his presidential campaign against a blue-collar backdrop, gathering in a warehouse, surrounded by factory workers in his hometown of Butler, Pa.

“This is where my American story started,” Santorum said, while holding up a lump of coal. His grandfather, Pietro was a coalminer who left fascist Italy for America in search of freedom, Santorum explained.   

During his speech, Santorum took on Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, casting her as the corporate candidate in the 2016 election. He claimed Clinton and big business interests have together called for a massive influx of unskilled immigrant labor. That, he said, harms American workers.

“Business does it because they want to control cost,” he said, “Hillary does it, well, she just wants votes. Their priorities are profit and power. My priority is you, the American worker.”   

A devout Catholic, Santorum is known as a staunch social conservative. He frequently takes on life and family issues many Republicans prefer to avoid, such as abortion and the definition of marriage.

“We can create jobs, but as we’ve all seen, America can’t succeed unless we strengthen the first economy, the American family,” he told supporters on Wednesday.

If elected, Santorum pledged to govern as a pro-life president, and he restated his belief in a traditional definition of marriage. He also vowed to fight “for the freedom for you to believe what you are called to believe, not just in your places of worship, but outside of your places of worship, too.”

Santorum is hoping to build on his surprising success in 2012. He came up short in his first bid for the Republican presidential nod but finished as runner-up to nominee Mitt Romney. Santorum started strong, edging out Romney for a first-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. He went on to win a total of 11 states, performing well in the south and in the midwestern plains.   

The former lawmaker served two terms in the U.S. Senate, from 1995 to 2007, after serving four years in the House. He lost his 2006 reelection bid to Democrat Bob Casey.

Santorum has kept busy since bowing out of the 2012 race. He wrote a book called Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to An America That Works. He also has operated his own faith-based movie studio, Echolight Studios.

Santorum faces an even tougher fight in 2016 than in his last campaign. He joins an already crowded Republican field, which officiallyincludes Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Rand Paul of Kentucky, as well as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, and former tech CEO Carly Fiorina.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki announces his candidacy today, and as many as nine more Republicans could join the fray in the coming weeks.  

But Santorum says he relishes the challenge and is ready to reprise his role as a Republican underdog.

“The last race, we changed the debate,” Santorum declared as his supporters roared. “This race, with your help and God’s grace, we can change this nation!”