For Rick Santorum, It’s 2012 All Over Again

Santorum’s linguistic gripes and emphasis on the blue-collar vote is the same speech he’s been giving for years.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
March 7, 2014, 11:02 a.m.

For any­one who fol­lowed the 2012 pres­id­en­tial-elec­tion cycle, Rick San­tor­um’s speech Fri­day prob­ably soun­ded fa­mil­i­ar.

In 2012, San­tor­um had so­lid­i­fied his role as the nice guy in the race. And in his speech at the Con­ser­vat­ive Polit­ic­al Ac­tion Con­fer­ence this year, he re­minded every­one why.

“We’re told we have to put aside what we be­lieve is the best in­terest of the coun­try so that a Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate can win,” he told a packed audi­ence. “That may res­ult in a win for a Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate but it will be a dev­ast­at­ing loss for Amer­ica.”

He em­phas­ized con­ser­vat­ive val­ues like re­claim­ing the “true beau­ti­ful in­sti­tu­tion of mar­riage” over fight­ing with fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans, and waxed nos­tal­gic about everything he did back in his fa­vor­ite year: 2012.

“I didn’t run to carry the agenda,” he said with­in the first few minutes of his speech. “I didn’t run to put forth is­sues. I ran be­cause I wanted us to win the White House.” He also drew a dir­ect line between his race in 2012 and Re­agan’s 1976 race, stress­ing that Re­agan won not be­cause he was a cul­tur­al con­ser­vat­ive but be­cause he fo­cused on work­ing Amer­ic­ans.

That fed per­fectly in­to one of San­tor­um’s top gripes from 2012: the term “middle-class,” or class-any­thing, really.

“Do you really ac­cept the idea that there are classes in Amer­ica?” he de­man­ded of the as­sembled con­ser­vat­ives, ex­plain­ing they should really all use the term “work­ing Amer­ic­ans” in­stead. Be­cause un­like Demo­crats (who pre­sum­ably hate work and love wel­fare), “we be­lieve work is a good thing.”

“They use the class rhet­or­ic be­cause they’re all about di­vid­ing,” he said, “That’s what they do, they di­vide. Let them di­vide; let us uni­fy!”

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4798) }}

He made that point to con­sid­er­able cheers. It’s also one he’s made be­fore.

At an event with his GOP primary com­pet­it­ors in Janu­ary 2012, he chided Mitt Rom­ney for us­ing pre­cisely this lan­guage:

The gov­ernor used a term earli­er that I shrink from. It’s one that I don’t think we should be us­ing as Re­pub­lic­ans, “middle class.” There are no classes in Amer­ica. We are a coun­try that don’t al­low for titles. We don’t put people in classes. There may be middle-in­come people, but the idea that some­how or an­oth­er we’re go­ing to buy in­to the class-war­fare ar­gu­ments of Barack Obama is something that should not be part of the Re­pub­lic­an lex­icon.

Pre­vi­ously he had at­tacked Obama with a very sim­il­ar talk­ing point. “You’ll nev­er hear the word ‘class’ come out of my mouth,” he said. “Classes? We spe­cific­ally re­jec­ted that. Look in the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

He likes the point so much, in fact, that he kept us­ing it even after he left the cam­paign trail. While speak­ing at a GOP fun­draiser in Au­gust of last year, he told the audi­ence:

Don’t use the term the oth­er side uses. What does Barack Obama talk about all the time? The middle class,” he said at a fun­draiser hos­ted by the Ly­on County GOP. “Since when in Amer­ica do we have classes? Since when in Amer­ica are people stuck in areas or defined places called a class? That’s Marx­ism talk.

A tweet by Slate‘s Dave Wei­gel summed it up: “San­tor­um giv­ing the same ‘I could have won in 2012 be­cause blue col­lar’ speech he’s giv­en for a year.”

In­deed, it looks like mostly what we were get­ting was a sales pitch. San­tor­um’s book on how the GOP can ap­peal to blue-col­lar work­ers is ex­pec­ted out later this year. And if Re­pub­lic­ans’ struggle to cap­ture the blue-col­lar vote in the last elec­tion cycle is any in­dic­a­tion, the book will sell.

What We're Following See More »
‘PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE’
Priebus Asks Party to Unite Behind Trump
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
FEELING THE MIDWESTERN BERN
Sanders Upsets Clinton in Indiana
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Despite trailing Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, Bernie Sanders wasn't going the way of Ted Cruz tonight. The Vermont senator upset Clinton in Indiana, with MSNBC calling the race at 9pm. Sanders appears poised to win by a five- or six-point spread.

Source:
TRUMP IS PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE
Ted Cruz Bows Out, Effectively Ceding the Contest to Trump
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

And just like that, it's over. Ted Cruz will suspend his presidential campaign after losing badly to Donald Trump in Indiana tonight. "While Cruz had always hedged when asked whether he would quit if he lost Indiana; his campaign had laid a huge bet on the state." John Kasich's campaign has pledged to carry on. “From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” said Cruz. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed."

Source:
TAKES AT LEAST 45 DELEGATES
Trump Wins Indiana, All but Seals the Nomination
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Republican establishment's last remaining hope—a contested convention this summer—may have just ended in Indiana, as Donald Trump won a decisive victory over Ted Cruz. Nothing Cruz seemed to have in his corner seemed to help—not a presumptive VP pick in Carly Fiorina, not a midwestern state where he's done well in the past, and not the state's legions of conservatives. Though Trump "won't secure the 1,237 delegates he needs to formally claim the nomination until June, his Indiana triumph makes it almost impossible to stop him. Following his decisive wins in New York and other East Coast states, the Indiana victory could put Trump within 200 delegates of the magic number he needs to clinch the nomination." Cruz, meanwhile, "now faces the agonizing choice of whether to remain in the race, with his attempt to force the party into a contested convention in tatters, or to bow out and cede the party nomination to his political nemesis." The Associated Press, which called the race at 7pm, predicts Trump will win at least 45 delegates.

Source:
LOTS OF STRINGERS
Inside the AP’s Election Operation
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
×