- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2014

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum on Thursday delivered some tough love to conservatives and Republicans, telling them that they’d be better served getting their own messaging in order before blasting President Obama.

Mr. Santorum, the last of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s Republican rivals, threw a brushback pitch at members of the party he accused of valued winning elections over standing on principle, nominating candidates “who keep apologizing for the principles they say they believe in.”

He said he had heard a lot of talk at the ongoing 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) about how Republicans have to win elections in order to implement a conservative agenda, but said that such a mindset hasn’t worked out in the last few presidential elections.

“I’m here to see America win,” he said.

In the swing state of Ohio in 2012, he said, “hundreds of thousands of people” stayed home because they didn’t support President Obama but couldn’t bring themselves to pull the lever for Republicans, either, because the GOP hadn’t made a compelling case.

“They couldn’t vote for us because they didn’t [think] we cared about them, so they stayed home,” he said. “And now we’re here, because we didn’t connect with them.”

He said “fear” was a key motivating factor in the election and that if Republicans don’t have a message for people down on their luck, “we’re in trouble.”

A return to traditional conservative stands on issues like marriage and family will help that cause, he said.

“When the home breaks down, the economy breaks down,” he said. “Unlike them, we believe that work is a good thing.”

He said the party needs small and large business owners out on the campaign trail, but also needs people who work 9-to-5 jobs and coach Little League, or volunteer at the local library, people “who value family and community and children.”

In effect, the party was stressing job “creators” too much, and not job “holders,” he said — and simply blasting Mr. Obama isn’t going to bridge that gap.

“It’s fun, I get that — it’s easy. Getting easier, I might add,” he joked. “But that isn’t going to win people sitting at home, hurting.”

“We need to use a brush where [Americans] see themselves in the paint,” he said.

Mr. Santorum went on to praise Pope Francis for going out and talking about what Christianity is for.

“He won’t change a single policy, but what he’ll do is go out there and talk about the good news to a hurting world,” he said.

“Fear is powerful, and overcoming fear is what makes America the greatest country in the world, and you can be a part of that,” Mr. Santorum continued. “We [have] an opportunity. …Let’s not blow it by talking about them.”

“Let them divide,” he said. “Let us unify.”

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