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Rick Santorum Launches Populist Presidential Campaign Outside Pittsburgh: ‘I Stand with You, the American Worker’

CABOT, Pennsylvania — Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who finished second place in the 2012 GOP presidential nominating contest, nailed his announcement speech here early on Wednesday evening—hammering ISIS, open borders advocates, the permanent political class in Washington, and the failures of both parties—all while real American workers stood by his side.

Holding a large piece of coal after introducing his family and thanking the employee-owned Penn United Technologies, Inc.—which lent him the floor space of one of their factories for his announcement speech—Santorum noted how his grandfather brought his father to the United States at age 7 from “fascist Italy.”

“He didn’t come for this,” Santorum said, holding up the coal before lifting an American flag to symbolize freedom: “He came for this.”

Santorum walked through how he grew up in West Virginia before his family moved to Butler, Pennsylvania, just down the road from here. “In the late ’70s, like many of you, we saw the economic devastation here in Southwestern Pennsylvania and across this country, particularly in the area of manufacturing,” Santorum said. “This is a result of the excesses and indifference of big government, big labor, and, yes, big business. Here in Southwestern Pennsylvania we lost over 100,000 jobs in what seemed to be overnight. That has to and did leave a mark on all of us.

“Afterwards, big government and big business told our workers that times have changed, American workers can no longer compete with low foreign wages and those jobs were gone forever. Well, what about those politicians? For all of those years, what did they do? What did they do for those communities across this area and across this country in small town America? They had no plan and they provided no hope. To that I say: no longer.”

The crowd went wild.

Santorum’s spokesman Matt Beynon told Breitbart News on scene that there are two reasons Santorum picked this Penn United factory as his launch location. First is he grew up 10 miles down the road, where his parents worked at the VA facility.

“His parents worked at the VA facility in Butler—and he grew up on the VA grounds in World War II staff housing,” Beynon said. “All his friends at the time—even though his parents worked for the VA—they worked in the mills, the mines. He grew up in blue collar America, in Southwestern Pennsylvania.”

The second reason, Beynon said, is because Santorum visited this exact facility when he ran for U.S. Senate in 1994. “At the time, it was just one building,” Beynon said. “Since then, they have this entire campus, they have 600 buildings, and, by the way, it’s employee-owned, too. It really just epitomizes what he views can be a renaissance in American manufacturing. Why don’t we have more Penn Uniteds across this country?”

In his speech, Santorum implored Americans nationwide not to “sit idly by as big government makes it harder for our workers” a government that then “turns around and blames them for losing jobs overseas.”

“Working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money,” Santorum said as the crowd cheered loudly. “Today is the day that we begin to fight back!”

The crowd broke into uproarious applause.

“I am proud to stand here among you and for you—the American workers who have sacrificed so much—to announce that I am running for president of the United States,” Santorum said.

The crowd roar was deafening as everyone present—hundreds of workers who just got off the clock before the event started at 5 p.m., and people from at least 32 different states supporting Santorum’s campaign—waved American flags and “Santorum for President” campaign signs.

“I offer a full vision,” Santorum said. “One that’s clear and conservative, that has plans for reform, and that has a proven track record from my time in service.

“Step one in taking back America, step one: Let’s scrap the corrupt federal tax code and the IRS that goes with it. It’s time to give America a simpler, fair, flat tax. It will create millions of good-paying jobs and rebuild our factories and increase take-home pay for workers in America, powered by the shale revolution and the renewable revolution—powered by those two revolutions, we have regained the title of the world leader in energy production.

“With low-cost energy, our whole plan, I promise you you will regain the title of the world leader in manufacturing. We will shrink government, we will reduce spending, we will revoke every executive order and regulation—“

The crowd cheering loudly again forced him to stop for a moment.

“We will revoke every executive order and regulation that cost American jobs,” Santorum said. “On day one, we will work to bring back America and put Americans back to work.”

From there, Santorum hammered the permanent political class and Wall Street wing of the GOP on immigration—noting that, without naming them specifically, Republicans who support amnesty and massive immigration increases like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in effect stand with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“American workers deserve a shot at these jobs,” he said. “For the last 20 years, we’ve brought into this country both legally and illegally 35 million mostly unskilled workers. The result? Over that same period of time, workers’ incomes and wages have flatlined.

“Hillary Clinton and big business, they have called for a massive influx in unskilled labor. Business does it because they want to control costs. Hillary does it, well, she just wants votes. Their priorities are profits and power. My priority is you: the American worker. If you don’t believe me, don’t take my word for it. Yesterday, the largest pro-worker immigration group [Numbers USA] just published a survey that only one candidate got an A for standing behind American workers, and he’s standing here today.”

The crowd roared again, forcing Santorum to wait before he spoke again.

Santorum called for a president who won’t “divide” Americans on race or class but will “unite” Americans together behind a common good: getting American working families back in control of their destinies. He called for education reform that makes sure Americans get good educations, rather than a destructive process run by government.

“The first step in that process is joining me in driving a stake in the heart of Common Core,” Santorum said.

He also called for ensuring that American veterans—especially wounded warriors, people he grew up around since his family worked for the VA—have the best medical care and benefits possible, before shifting into discussing foreign policy. “I saw the cost of failed political leadership,” Santorum said, before channeling Ronald Reagan: “The Obama-Clinton team, they don’t understand that peace comes through strength.”

The crowd broke out into loud applause again, chanting for nearly a full minute: “USA! USA! USA!”

“When I see our heroic veterans dying, waiting in line at the VA, because these very same leaders don’t care enough to give them what they’ve earned—the best medical care in the world—I say join me and take back America and help them get it!” Santorum yelled as the crowd roared again.

“As you can see, Commander-in-Chief is not an entry-level position,” Santorum continued, prompting laughter. “The White House is the last place for on-the-job training. It’s critical that both our allies and our friends know what to expect from our next president.

“Last month, I was featured in an online magazine. That’s usually a good thing—but in this case, that online magazine was the magazine of the Islamic State, ISIS. Under the headline ‘In The Words Of Our Enemy’ was a headline and a quote.

“After 12 years of legislative and warning about the gathering storm of radical Islam, they know who I am and I know who they are. In that article, I described who they are and how to defeat them—and ladies and gentlemen, if I’m the next president, we will defeat them.”

Santorum continued by noting that “as president” he will “stand for the principle” that “every life matters,” noting too that he’d fight for religious liberty rights for all Americans.

Santorum then highlighted his record in the United States Senate.

“While watching these announcements here coming up this week, you’re going to see a lot of folks saying what they’re going to do—and that’s what they do, so how do you know who to trust?” Santorum asked the crowd rhetorically. “You look at their record. I went to Washington and said I was going to fight corruption. I delivered. I went to end welfare, to reduce poverty, to put people back to work—and I delivered.

“I went to give patients control over their healthcare through Health Savings Accounts, and I delivered. I went to end partial-birth abortion, and I delivered.

“I went to impose sanctions on Syria and Iran and to protect the state of Israel and this country and I delivered. I went to cut taxes and promised never to raise them, and I delivered. Our record of standing for you and standing up to big government is clear, 92 percent conservative voting record.”

Santorum argued that his conservatism makes him more electable than Wall Street Republicans who stand up only for special interests.

“How does someone like that get elected in [a House district just outside Pittsburgh], in one of the most Democratic areas of the state? How does someone with a conservative voting record get elected twice in the state of Pennsylvania where there’s over a million more registered Democrats than there is Republicans?” Santorum asked. “Because I stood for you and against big government in Washington, D.C. Fighting in those races, both here in Southwest Pennsylvania and across Pennsylvania, I know what it’s like to be an underdog.”

Then Santorum discussed how in the 2012 presidential campaign, “no one gave us much of a chance.”

“But, we won 11 states,” Santorum said. “We got 4 million votes. And it’s not just because I stood for something. It’s because I stood for someone: the American worker. I promised then as a I promise you now—I will take money and power out of Washington, and put it back where our Constitution says it belongs: in [the pockets of] the people who earned it.”

The crowd began shouting: “Rick! Rick! Rick! Rick!”

“Last race, we changed the debate,” Santorum said when they stopped. “This race, with your help and God’s grace, we can change this nation.”

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