Former Sen. Rick Santorum
Conservative Political Action Conference
Gaylord National
National Harbor, MD
March 7, 2014

[transcript © DEMOCRACY IN ACTION / video]

INTRODUCTION BY FOSTER FRIESS: It's always nice to be at CPAC to see a lot of people that care.  I have the honor today of introducing Rick Santorum, and why we all love this guy?  Because, number one, what he says, that's who he is.  I was a donor to his campaign; he wouldn't listen to anything I tried to convince him on.  He'd say I know what's going on, and don't try to influence me.  What is remarkable about Rick is what he told that speech in Iowa, when he talked about his grandfather's hands, big hands that he viewed casket that dug coal in the mines of Pennsylvania 'til he was 72 years old.  And going out of that room, and everyone was just excited, and we heard the media, the media saying this could be the first time the Republicans run  blue-collar candidate. 

And I think the way Rick thinks about life and why he was so able to win in Pennsylvania, which is heavily Democratic—he beat two Democratic opponents, had another incumbent Democrat drop out—and so his vision of looking out for the little guy, his ability, now to think about the worker as much as the guy who built the company.  There's one thing to talk about company creators, but what about all the people who work in those companies, and he has a heart for those, and that's why the Obama campaign—this is not widely known—but people within the Obama campaign publicly said we were very concerned when we saw how you were appealing to those blue collar workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and those states, and were very glad that he didn't move any further ahead. 

The other thing about Rick, that really amazes me is his wonderful heart and joyfulness.  I was at the campaign with him in Minneapolis, I believe it was, and a pastor said what is your favorite Bible verse.  Pray for those who persecute you.  If anybody in this room has received more persecution than Rick Santorum I don't know who you are, but this guy just knows what he believes, knows his heart, and is willing to take the grief that people throw at him, and I think that's really special about Rick too. 

If you look at the polls, when he came out of some of these states, up 'til noon Romney was maybe up 5-percent; in afternoon maybe Rick was up [inaud.].  But the point I want to make, if you look at all the people who voted after 5 p.m. in one state Rick was up 20-percent for all the people who voted for him after the 5 o'clock time, and that's a very significant thing, because these are people out there working and getting things done. 

Now a lot of people said why would you want to vote, he couldn't win this last time.  Remember in that election the governor of Pennsylvania lost by 20 percentage points.  Secondly, the Democrats ran a pro-life candidate against him.  Thirdly, a lot of the conservatives has no clue of what his backing Specter was all about.  He basically backed Specter because he and Bush made a deal and say look if you help us get judges, we'll back you, and Toomey had a good chance of losing.  So to me where some people criticize him for that decision, it's a profile in courage and who Rick Santorum is and I'm glad to be his friend, I'm glad to be a supporter, but I wish the heck I could beat him at golf once in a while.  Welcome Rick Santorum.  [applause]
[ed. Friess was talking about the 2006 campaign in which Santorum was defeated; the Republican nominee for governor, Lynn Swann, lost by 20 percentage points]

SANTORUM: Thank you very much.  Thank you very much Foster, I think.  It's always a joy to be with Foster Friess and it's always you never know what you're going to get.

I've been watching a little bit of what's going on here at CPAC, and I hear a lot of "we have to win."  Now we all know what they mean.  They actually mean we have to lose.  We have to lose those currently unfashionable stances on cultural and limited government issues that have been proven over time to give Americans the best chance for a healthy, happy life.  So we're told that we have to put aside what we believe is in the best interest of the country so a Republican candidate can win.  Now that may result in a win for a Republican candidate but it will be a devastating loss for America. [applause] 

I don't know about you, but I'm not out here fighting just to elect Republican candidates and let them win.  I'm here to see America win. [applause]

By the way, how did it work out for the Republican establishment in following their lead nominating moderate candidates in the last two presidential elections?  Let's face it.  We have a bunch of leaders in this country who don't believe conservative policies can be the basis of a winning national election, and so they put forth candidates that keep apologizing for the principles they say they believe in and then they wonder why they lose. [scattered applause]

I want to win too.  I think everyone here wants to win, but unlike a lot of these Beltway talking heads I'm not pontificating.  I actually put my neck out there, and just about every other body part.  You may recall that I ran for president in 2012.  [applause]  I didn't run to carry an agenda.  I didn't run to put forth issues.  I ran because I wanted us to win the White House; I wanted us to be successful in transforming America away from the policies of this administration, to create a better America for the people who are struggling.  And let's make no mistake about it.  Millions and millions and millions more people are struggling because of the policies of this administration. 

And despite being outspent 4 or 5 to 1 in almost every state, we won 11 states.  That's more states than any second place finisher since a guy who finished second back in 1976 named Reagan. [applause]  Now the popular consensus of the media is that well he won because he was a conservative, he was a cultural conservative, and he appealed to the cultural conservative voters.  Well that really wasn't true.  Let's be honest.  Everybody in that race was a cultural conservative; they all were.  They all had the same positions I had, almost identical.  But you wouldn't know that.  No we went out and talked about something different.  We went out and talked about focusing on those who are working Americans.

Notice I didn't say middle class.  I don't know why we do this, fellow conservatives and Republicans.  Why do we believe—  Why do we use a term, I should say, that is of the other side.  Why do we, as Republicans who believe in the dignity of every human life, who believe in equality of opportunity for everyone to rise, adopt a class-envy leftist language that divides America against themselves? [applause]  Classes in America.  Do we really accept the fact there are classes in America?  Then why do we use that term?  Why do we adopt their language?  We have to stop that.  We have to stop acting like them and somehow feeling we can reach out to folks.  We should use the term working Americans because unlike them, we believe work is a good thing. [applause]

They use the class rhetoric because they're all about dividing.  One class for another.  One ethnic group against another.  One group of Americans—  That's what they do; they divide.  Let them divide.  Let us unify.  [applause]

As you saw from the news today, President Obama's policies continue to create an ever increasing wealth gap in America.  When I was out there campaigning, I was campaigning talking about the 70-percent of Americans who will not get a college degree.  Seventy percent do not have college degrees, and that number is not changing at all in America.

What are we going to do to talk to them?  Our answer has always been, well we'll cut taxes for high-income people.  Now I believe in that policy.  But if you're sitting there underemployed, unemployed, looking for a job, wanting to move up in your job and all we're talking about is cutting taxes for high-income people, [it] doesn't exactly connect emotionally, doesn't exactly resonate with the people that we're talking about.  So what I did is I went out and talked about yes cutting taxes, but for manufacturing so we could create jobs for folks who don't go to college, that are good-paying jobs so they can rise in society and provide for their families. [applause] 

We celebrate that all work is good work whether it's in manufacturing or energy, two things that we can grow and expand and really get behind and create not just a quality of life for the people who are working, but better energy prices and better quality goods and services for people here in America who aren't in those jobs. 

That's a plan and a vision that connects with those folks who stayed home in the last couple of elections.  Particularly the last election, we saw this in Ohio.  Hundreds of thousands of people who stayed home because they couldn't vote for Barack Obama.  They knew that his policies were horrendous and hurting them, them, not just the country, them.  So they couldn't vote for him, but they also couldn't vote for us.  They couldn't vote for us because they didn't think we cared, they didn't think we cared about them.  And so they stayed home and now we're here because we didn't connect with them.

Ladies and gentlemen times are uncertain in America.  Even today.  Saw the unemployment numbers not getting any better.  You hear prediction that the economy's going to start to falter again.  People are nervous, anxious and yes fearful.  People ask me why did we not win an election where so may people were doing so poorly and the economy was so bad.  Fear.  Look at where Barack Obama got the votes. He got the votes of the people who are the most economically vulnerable.  Fear.  And we're out there saying we're going to cut this and cut that and cut this and you're sitting there holding on by your fingernails.  And we have no message for you as to how things are going to get better for you, not for the employer who may hire. you. 

And we're in trouble as a party.  And here's the sad part.  We are the party who has the policies that will work best for these folks.  We are the party that will create growth and opportunity.  We are the party that believes in restoring something that is broken in most of the communities where people are struggling: the American family.

You know I talked about how important it was that the American family be the center of all of our policies, our economic policies.  Because if you look at it, the word economy comes from the Greek word oikos which means home or family.  The first economy is the home.  And when the home breaks down, the economy breaks down. [applause]

I don't want to talk about redefining marriage.  I want to talk about reclaiming marriage as a good for society and celebrating how important it is for our economy. [applause]
But that's not what we did, that's not what we did.  We went out an talked about job creators.  That's what we do as Republicans, we've got to face it.  We're out there talking as if everybody who's a voter is like us, sort of high-energy, Type-A people who want to reach for the brass ring.  Well you know what?  We need folks like that and we need to have policies that encourage people to do that.  But you know what we also need folks who are going to work 9 to 5, and go home, and coach Little League.  We also need them to work at the library and volunteer and to be the parent in the neighborhood when maybe another parent isn't around.  We need people like that.  That's the backbone of America, these folks who don't value just money, but they value family and community and children. 

America was a great country because we had that strong infrastructure of family and community.  And ladies and gentlemen it is falling apart.  Forty-percent now of children in America are born to a single mother.  Forty.  In the poor neighborhoods it's three out of four.  In neighborhoods there are no dads.  I hear Ben Carson.  He gives a wonderful talk about how he was raised with a single mom, but he had dads in the community that helped.  There are no dads.

And you say well what can government do about it?  Well what could government do about getting people to stop smoking?  Turned out a  heck of a lot.  What can private enterprise do to help support marriage?  Well it turns out when they take a cause, it turns out they can do a lot.  What about education?  What if we get the educational institutions behind valuing marriage and talking about the importance of it.  How about if businesses say that they'll actually give marriage counseling as part of a benefit.  How about if we have a movement to reclaim the true, beautiful institution of marriage? [applause]

But we talked about job creators, not job holders.  I'll give you the classic example during the campaign.  It was on a convention night.  I was there; I spoke that night.  And I was backstage and I saw all of these folks who are wonderful people, small business people, some big business people.  And all throughout the convention hall on every seat was a placard that said "We Built That."  Because you remember President Obama said, hey, you didn't build that.  And so we got all outraged.  "Yes we did."  And so we
trotted out small business person after small business person after small business person after large business person to say to the very small percentage of businesspeople who start their own businesses in America that we built it.  We didn't send one server at a restaurant to go out there on that stage and talk about how grateful she was that her employer sacrificed a lot to create a job for her.  And then we didn't have that employer walk out on that same stage and put his arm around that server and say, "I thank God for you and the work that you're doing."  That's uniting America, not dividing America. [applause]

We as a—  Look, I understand why people come out on this stage and they bang away at President Obama.  I mean I know.  It's fun.  I mean I get that. [laughter]  It's also easy, getting easier, I might add, but that isn't going to win people who are sitting at home hurting.  They don't feel better.  We feel better.

I think we need to take a lesson from someone who is maybe the most popular person in the world right now.  Pope Francis. [applause]

There might be some people who are surprised that Rick Santorum would suggest that we take lessons from Pope Francis.  But I do.  Because what Pope Francis is doing, he's going out there and not talking about what the Christian faith is against.  He's going out there and talking about what we're for. [applause]  He hasn't changed a single policy.  He won't change a single policy, but what he'll do is he'll go out there and talk about the good news to a hurting world because he believes that that's what the world needs.  It needs the Lord. 

We'll we're not a religion and we're not going to go out there and talk about the good news.  But what we need to do is talk about the news of a good America and what that good America can be.  We need to paint a picture for people, and we need to use a brush where they see themselves in the painting, they see a part of their life where they hear someone say or they see a policy  and they say that's me.  We need to be the "that's me" party. 

There are more and more speakers who are going to come up and I know you're going to have a lot of fun cheering and stomping your feet and railing on Obama.  Get it out of your system.  Because after we leave here, we got a job to do.

We got to win. [applause]  And we will win, not by further dividing; will will win by uniting.  So I ask each and every one of you, candidates and supporters of candidates to go out and stand with that underemployed person working two jobs and talk about what we're do to help them.  Stand with the unemployed.  Stand with the single mom holding things together.  Stand with the people who are fearful 'cause fear is powerful and overcoming fear is what makes America the greatest country in the world, and you can be a part of that.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have an opportunity—yes because of they're, they're messing up big time—we have an opportunity.  Let's not blow it by talking about them.  Let's talk about how we can build a great America again.  Thank you and God bless you. [applause]

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