Santorum Urges GOP in Iowa to Embrace Pop Culture, Working Class
Keeping the door open on a 2016 run, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was enthusiastically received by Iowans this weekend. Santorum actually won the Iowa caucuses in 2012, but that did not become official until three weeks after Santorum and Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney essentially tied on caucus night.
Santorum is now the CEO of a faith-based film company, and he reportedly told Iowans at the Iowa State Fair on Friday that while parents spend “10 minutes, 15 minutes a day” with their children, “these devices"--like iPhones, iPads, computers, and televisions--"get about eight hours.”
According to the Daily Beast, Santorum said there are “a lot of entertainers who play politics, but there aren’t very many politicians who get into entertainment." He said there needed to be more because "we don’t understand the impact of culture on the political system and the future of our country and it’s a very big part of America.”
At the Family Leadership Summit on Saturday, Santorum continued to talk about the importance of appealing to working class Americans, which he did for much of the 2012 campaign. On the stump and in interviews in 2012, Santorum emphasized the importance of fighting for people who worked with their hands and showered at night in order to contrast himself and his message from Mitt Romney, who had trouble resonating with working class Americans.
"We need to reject this idea that if we build the economy, all boats will rise. We need to talk about people who have holes in their boats, because we all do," Santorum said, emphasizing Republicans failed to connect with "marginalized" working class voters.
Santorum outworked his opponents in Iowa in 2012, visiting all 99 counties in a sweater vest and pickup truck. He became the darling of social conservatives in a field that lacked a strong messenger. He rocketed up Iowa's polls after Sarah Palin mentioned him in an appearance on Fox News just over a month before the caucuses.
But Santorum, who was part of the freshman Congressional class in the 1990s that exposed the House banking scandal, did not get the enthusiastic support of Tea Partiers because he became associated with K-Street and lobbying during the 2000s and voted for legislation like No Child Left Behind and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit that the conservative base revolted against while he was in the Senate.
Without those ties to the Republican establishment of the last decade, Santorum may have been the true "Teavangelical" candidate that appealed as fervently to Evangelicals and Tea Partiers. His run for the presidency was also costly, as Santorum still has over $500,000 in campaign debt he has yet to retire from the 2012 campaign.
Regardless, Santorum, by staking his candidacy on Iowa in 2012, respected the caucuses and Iowans, and this weekend showed that Iowans still have not forgotten that--or him.