ICYMI: Santorum Authors USA Today Op-Ed On GOP Appeal To Middle America

Verona, PA - This morning, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Patriot Voices Chairman authored an opinion piece for USA Today focused on the need for the Republican Party to speak to not just the business owners, but to the workers who make up those businesses.

This message of opportunity for all Americans was the hallmark of Santorum's 2012 presidential campaign, where his economic policies and overarching theme of his campaign was to put America back to work again and help working families rise in America. 

"Reaching Middle America"

By: Rick Santorum 

"... 2012 exit polling tells us that 21% of voters thought that the most important Presidential quality was that the candidate "cares about people like me" - and President Obama won these voters 81 to 18. This fact rekindled the discussion over the increasing "empathy gap."

The "gap" should come as no surprise. Republican rhetoric focuses on business creators without making the connection to the average American. Furthermore, the establishment Republicans 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. Plus our policies must address their interests - and I don't mean just economic interests. True empathy is conveyed by message, messenger, and action.

The Republican establishment dismisses such "populism" just like they dismissed our 2012 presidential campaign. Contrary to the popular wisdom, we did not base our campaign on contraception and abortion.

In spite of being badly outspent, we won 11 states. (Incidentally, the same number as Ronald Reagan won against Gerald Ford in 1976.) How? Much like President Reagan, we resonated with Middle America. 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 health care system.

In the days after the election, the Romney campaign shared some of the polling they had done during the primary, since we hadn't done any polling of our own. The most fascinating information was a trend they saw when it basically became a two-man race: Every election day exit poll released before the polls closed had Romney doing better than the final results, so they began asking what time of day voters were planning on voting. The last poll they took from Pennsylvania was telling. We were tied with voters who were planning to vote before 5:00 PM, but I lead Romney by 21 points with the folks 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." They know that the president's promises of government taking care of their every need is 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.

When President Obama said to American business owners during the campaign last summer "you didn't build that," many Americans cringed - and many were rightly offended. He was wrong, of course, but the Republican response was also wrong. Many American companies were built by great entrepreneurs, but they would be the first to tell you that, while they risked the most time and money, they weren't alone. Republicans should have told the story of entrepreneurs and their employees - how conservative principles have a positive impact on everyone's lives...

... In the future, 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. We need to look to leaders in our party to emerge and solidify around this message.

Republican President Theodore Roosevelt has had a rebirth of appreciation in some conservative circles for a phrase he coined at the turn of the last century: "Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."

Republicans, take heed."

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commented 2013-06-30 20:34:51 -0400 · Flag
Awesome article!! Mr. Santorum, you are absolutely right on this! Someone needs to stand up for the hard working middle class. Thank you!