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 »
ON GUN RIGHTS
Trump Jr. Meeting with GOP Members
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
FLOPPY DISKS
US Nukes Rely on Decades-Old Tech
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS
‘NO BASIS IN LAW’
Eleven States Sue Administration Over Transgender Bathroom Access
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

The great restroom war of 2016 continues apace, as eleven states have sued the Obama administration in federal court, claiming its federal guidance on how schools should accommodate transgender students "has no basis in law." "The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on behalf of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The lawsuit argues that the federal government has worked to turn workplaces and schools 'into laboratories for a massive social experiment.'"

Source:
NEXT STOP: THE FLOOR
Puerto Rico Debt Bill Passes House Committee
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

By a 29-10 vote, the House Natural Resources Committee today passed the bill to allow Puerto Rico to restructure its $70 billion in debt. The legislation "would establish an oversight board to help the commonwealth restructure its un-payable debt and craft an economic recovery plan."

Source:
WITHIN 15 DAYS OF NOMINATION
Wyden Bill Would Make Nominees’ Tax Disclosures Mandatory
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Though every major party nominee since 1976 has released his tax returns while running for president, the practice has never been required by law. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wants to change that. The senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which handles tax issues, introduced a bill on Wednesday that would force presidential candidates to release their most recent tax returns. The Presidential Tax Transparency Act, as the bill is called, would require candidates to make their latest three years of tax returns public no later than 15 days after becoming the nominee."

Source:
×