Santorum Says GOP needs to focus on the lower income and middle class more

USA Today: GOP needs to tell people we can help

By Rick Santorum

November 18. 2012

We Republicans are in a box, one largely of our own making. The American electorate didn’t buy our box. Millions stayed home instead – not because of how the box was wrapped, but rather, what we didn’t include in it. It’s time that conservative Republicans build a new box and offer Americans a broader, bolder and more inclusive vision of freedom and opportunity, as well as provide the tools to achieve them.

I’ve led strategic planning for Republicans on Capitol Hill and coordinated with the White House and the Republican National Committee while in party leadership, so I know this will not be easy. There has been no shortage of Mitt Romney postmortems with recommendations ranging from pursuing greater ideological purity to rebranding and “softening” positions to attract more Hispanics, women and young voters. Some have even blamed me and the other primary challengers for the election results.

These analyses come largely from the academic and pundit crowd. As Republican leaders confer over the next several weeks to prepare for a new Congress, we have to own up to the fact that millions of Americans who should have voted for our candidates were not against us, but at the same time felt we were not for them. Most notable among this electorate were lower-to-middle income and working-poor Americans, especially Hispanics. The American people do not want “gifts” from their leaders, particularly when these gifts leave a steep bill for our children to pay, but they do want us to be on their side.

Why failed president won

When asked which candidate “cares more about people like me,” by a margin of 81%-18%, voters chose President Obama. Despite presiding over persistently high unemployment and widespread economic pessimism and despair, voters chose Obama because they thought he “cared more” about them. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Henry Olsen points out, the entire Obama campaign was built around this message: Romney and the Republicans do not care about you. And that narrative – the 47% – carried the day. Having nothing to run on and fearing indifferent voters, the Obama team pushed this message and won.

While the Democrats may have won, that is not a message that will carry them forward. Why? It’s a cynical one, designed to turn off voters. This time, it worked. About 8 million fewer voters came to polls in 2012 than in 2008. If Romney had received the number of votes John McCain did, he might have won.

So here’s our opportunity: America is waiting to see which party will offer solutions that work, that connect to their lives and that will rebuild the ladder of opportunity that so few have been able to climb since the devastating recession. America thrives when the American Dream is alive, when we reach for the rungs of the ladder to achieve it – education, job and family stability – and they are there. But they have not been, and we have not showed America that we have the tools to put the rungs back. Conservative Republicans need to put the policies in our box that will fix our failing schools, make hard work pay off and encourage family stability. This will mean true tax reform, supporting sectors such as energy and manufacturing, and promoting a family-first economic agenda that recognizes the unique role of the family as the bedrock of lower middle income America.

Right role for government

When I promoted this agenda during the primary, it was called “supply-side economics for the working man.” Allowing for a role for government policy in these arenas is not abandonment of our first principles. I believe we need to return to those principles, all of them, with a holistic integrated message that applies to the problems that people face today. America does not need to be transformed. America needs to rely upon what she has always relied upon: faith, family, opportunity and a free economy where all can rise.

Governor Romney ran an honorable and hard-fought campaign and nearly became our next president. But we as a party, the party of Ronald Reagan and “Morning in America,” failed to provide an agenda that shows we care.

We do not need to have the “rebranding” vs. “purity” debate. That false choice is not what this is about. It’s about the fact that a vast majority of Americans want a better life for themselves and their families. They want the opportunity for work and independence. They want a good education for their kids. And they want to feel safe from harm. We don’t need new wrapping paper. We need to offer new tools for the box so we can rebuild the American Dream.

Former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania sought the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, finishing second in delegates to Mitt Romney. He is co-founder of Patriot Voices.

11 thoughts on “Santorum Says GOP needs to focus on the lower income and middle class more”

  1. It’s called “lower” class for reason. They are the takers, the moochers, the uppity sort who think that they deserve things on a minimum wage that it won’t buy.

    The only attention they need is a swift spanking by the invisible hand of the free market to better themselves instead of goofing off with silly jobs like making pizza.

  2. What’s interesting Nit, which you may have missed, is that in the Santorum’s article, he says “lower-to-middle income and working-poor Americans.” No where did Santorum say “lower class.”

    Now notice the title of the post by DA, where he says “lower and middle class..”

    Freudian slip? Is this what David thinks when he encounters someone of lower income? My comment on Santorum’s article is “No Doh!” However, I am more interest in how Republican David perceives those and where that stereotype is prevelant through the GOP.

    Of course I’ve long said that class is not a matter of income. It is how comports oneself and relates to others. I’ve seen very wealthy folks (Trump, Limbaugh) who have no class whatsoever and very poor folks (many in Sussex County) who have an abundance of class.

  3. IMHO, people who make less than $100,000 per year should be charged a surtax for wasting oxygen.

  4. What the GOP needs to do is attack the socialist opponent and socialism itself. Being ‘nice’ is a proven loser.

    In my adult lifetime, there have been two wipeout landslide elections- Nixon in ’72 and Reagan ’84 (both 49-states), and they both attacked the left vociferously and relentlessly. ‘Nice’ guys like Dole, McCain and Romney are worthless in battle because they don’t seem to understand that we are at war, and it is a war for the very survival of the United States.

  5. “we are at war, and it is a war for the very survival of the United States.”

    Guys like you always love America, as long as it’s minus the Americans.

  6. Laffter writes in #3: “My dad always taught me that money and class are mutually exclusive…..”

    I am shocked to learn that your father was a communist.

    No, I’m not, really.

  7. Wow. What a limp-shafted response. A communist? Really? Still looking for a job, you jobless “taker” and “moocher”?

  8. ..money and class are mutually exclusive…

    Kind of ironic to use the term class as a complement of sorts, which might indicate why even communists and socialists are usually elitists in their own way. Why do the cheapest voices speaking for poor people always seem so expensive?

    They’d be more believable if they didn’t charge such high speaking fees these days.

    In any event… what is the communist view of the war on drugs, anyway? It’s just another police state, I’d imagine.

  9. Geezer, you do not talk about your employment here and I don’t know why I should either.

    But don’t assume that what you don’t know means that what you don’t know doesn’t exist.

  10. Prosperity, economic growth and individual success will never be equal among all Americans but our government is failing to allow any attempt at any of the three.

    Our federal government right now is taking off for the holidays while the fiscal future is very murky. A deficit commission of much merit was roundly ignored for the sacred honor of class warfare talking points. Regulations which would never pass in Congress come to life by executive fiat and worst of all we perpetuate a budget and tax structure/process which is absolutely criminal.

    Rick Santorum is correct, the nuts and bots of our government is broken and we are getting the wrench shoved up our butts while the political class prospers and laughs at us.
    Mike Protack

  11. “our government is failing to allow any attempt at any of the three.”

    Hyperbolic twaddle. Are you saying you are not enjoying economic prosperity, Mike? What makes you claim this is a universal condition?

    “Our federal government right now is taking off for the holidays while the fiscal future is very murky.”

    So what? Are you flying on Thanksgiving?

    “A deficit commission of much merit was roundly ignored for the sacred honor of class warfare talking points.”

    The commission could not agree on its own recommendations. And what do you consider a “class warfare talking point” — the pleas to leave Social Security alone?

    “Regulations which would never pass in Congress come to life by executive fiat”

    And proposals that would pass the Senate are killed by misapplication of Senate rules on filibustering. Government is messy. Sorry it upsets you.

    “and worst of all we perpetuate a budget and tax structure/process which is absolutely criminal.”

    Really? By all means, list the charges on which you would indict. Or is this more of your sloppily reasoned hyperbole?

    “Rick Santorum is correct, the nuts and bots of our government is broken ”

    As is you grammar.

    “we are getting the wrench shoved up our butts”

    Please leave you sex life out of this.

    “… while the political class prospers and laughs at us.”

    Not all of us, Mike. They’re only laughing at you.

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