It’s possible to believe in your principles and still gain public support, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says.
Santorum told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that both Pope Francis and conservative Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have won over followers without changing their position on social issues, and Republicans can do the same.
“We’ve done a very bad job of connecting with working Americans, and we’re out there in a very stressful time in American history,” Santorum said during a round table during the news program. “People are full of fear and anxiety about their future, and we’re out there talking about cutting things.”
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And while Santorum favors reducing the size of government and taxes, he said the issue is not simply about what’s going to be cut.
“When your whole answer is, ‘I’m going to cut your benefits, I’m going to cut taxes for rich people,’ you’re not cutting it with average people. And that to me is the real missing link here.”
But if Republicans would talk more like Pope Francis, maybe they would be more successful in attracting the followers they need to win races, argued Santorum, a devout Roman Catholic.
“Pope Francis hasn’t changed one doctrine of the Catholic Church, but he’s getting four times the crowds,” he said. “Why? Because of the way he’s communicating to the average person out there. We need to learn some lessons of who is out there actually trying to reach average folks . . . because average working Americans feel disconnected to this president.”
Santorum, who placed fifth in a straw poll of potential presidential candidates at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference, went on to tell Wallace that he’s refusing to comment on whether he’s planning to run for president again. He said he’s holding off on answering that question until after this year’s midterm elections.
However, he admitted, “I will be in Iowa and New Hampshire this month.”
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By Sandy Fitzgerald