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Rick Santorum says that to win, the GOP must focus on workers

Senator Rick Santorum (R,Pa) said that for Republicans to win, they must focus on workers and not just business owners.
Senator Rick Santorum (R,Pa) said that for Republicans to win, they must focus on workers and not just business owners.Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Former Senator Rick Santorum, while visiting Iowa, stated that if the Republicans are to have a chance of winning in the Presidential race in 2016, that they must deliver a message that appeals to workers in America, not just business owners and wealthy people, according to ABC News on Saturday. Santorum warned that too often the GOP (Grand Old Party) offers a message that does not resonate with everyday workers in America, such as balancing the budget and cutting benefits to welfare workers.

Santorum, who was elected to a single term as a United States Senator from Pennsylvania, ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012 and lost to former Governor Mitt Romney (R,Ma). Other notable candidates for the GOP nomination in 2012 were Congressman Ron Paul (R,Tx) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R). Santorum finished third in the GOP delegate votes at the convention, behind Romney and Paul. Santorum ran on a conservative platform in 2012 and rarely, if ever, mentioned everyday working people in that race. He also did not fully endorse Romney when he lost to him on May 7, 2012 and still managed to receive nine delegate votes at the convention.

Santorum's history of advocacy of ultra-conservatism, tax cuts and balanced budgets did not stop him from calling for a more benevolent and passionate Republican Party that cares about rank and file workers and speaks to their needs. Santorum stated:

"We can win every businessman's vote and still lose elections by landslide. We need workers if we're going to win and we need to start talking to workers if we're going to win."

Also appearing in Iowa were two other likely 2016 GOP candidates, Senator Rand Paul (R,Ky) and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R). Paul did not mention workers but instead advocated for a GOP that maintains its core message while taking measures to attract more Hispanic and African-American voters. In an interview Paul stated:

"There's a way to expand the party, staying true to the core message, but finding parts of your message that attract new people."

Paul also discussed conversations he had undergone with college students. He said that although college students do care about balanced budgets and excessive taxation, that they also are very concerned about privacy issues, especially as they pertain to cell phones and technology.

Jindal cited the pending lawsuit that retail chain Hobby Lobby is arguing before the United States Supreme Court defending its refusal to cover contraception even though such coverage is mandated by Obama's Affordable Health Care law (ObamaCare). Jindal referred to the federal healthcare mandates in ObamaCare as a "federal intrusion on religious liberties." Citing the First Amendment, Jindal stated:

"One of the most important struggles of our time is to stand up for our First Amendment religious liberty rights."

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz attributed this latest GOP rhetoric from the three potential Presidential candidates to the inordinate intrusion into the Republican Party by the Tea Party and made reference to the defeat of House Minority Leader Eric Cantor by a Tea Party challenger:

"I think it says the Republican Party has been swallowed by the tea party. If the most conservative member of the House Republican leadership isn't conservative enough to get his own party's nomination, then there is no more establishment or mainstream in the Republican Party."

The outcome of the GOP primaries, caucuses and 2016 Republican Convention is beyond the political horizon at this point. However, it is abundantly clear that Santorum, Paul and Jindal are going to have to walk a very precarious tightrope as they try to balance reactionary Tea Party ideology with a more global perspective that requires them to show greater compassion and sensitivity to rank and file workers, college students, Hispanics, African-Americans and other groups to which the GOP traditionally has shut the door in years past.