Review of Rick Santorum Announcement Speech

Rick Santorum announced his candidacy on May 27 at Penn United Technologies Inc. in Cabot, Pennsylvania. He introduced his family on the stage with specific mention of two children.

The first was their daughter, Bella, who had just celebrated her 7th birthday. Bella was born with a condition known as Trisomy 18 and was not expected to live beyond her first year. You may recall that in the 2012 Republican primary season, Santorum cancelled campaign events in Florida when Bella was admitted to the hospital and was not expected to live.

The second introduction was of their son who was not on the stage with them. Daniel is in Alabama in field training with the US Air Force.

He began his speech with an object lesson. He held up a piece of coal to represent where his story began in coal country. He pointed out that his grandfather Pietro, fled with his family from fascist Italy to the United States.

Then he made a clear point with a striking contrast. Holding up the piece of coal, Santorum said, “He did not come for this.” Then pulling the triangular folded American flag from behind the podium and holding it high, he proclaimed, “He came for this — he came for this — freedom.”

With that object lesson, Rick Santorum set the tone of his speech. His focus was on the working class American and freedom.

He went on to tell his story of his father growing up in West Virginia during the depression, then going to war in the Pacific and using the GI Bill to get an education and working in a Veteran’s hospital. His father met Catherine and they married. His mother is still living at the age of 96.

His family moved to Butler, Pennsylvania when Rick Santorum was seven. He grew up with his character and world view shaped by “the generation of God-fearing people who built this country and, at the same time, were the foundation of the country.”

On that background he moved to talk about the impact of the economic devastation that the nation felt in the late 70’s. He placed the root cause on three groups: Big Labor, Big Government, and Big Business.

“…as a result of the excesses and indifference of big labor, big government, and yes, big business. Here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, the epicenter, 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 could no longer compete with low foreign wages. And that those jobs were gone forever.”

He went on show how politicians had no plan and offered no hope. His response, “No longer!”

“… we can’t sit idly by as big government politicians make it harder for our workers and then turn around and blame them for losing jobs overseas. Working families don’t need another President tied to big government or big money. And today is the day — today is the day we are going to begin to fight back.”

He specifically mentioned the American worker when he announced that he is running for President. He referred to his vision and platform as clear, conservative, and with a proven track record.

Step one of his agenda is to “scrap the corrupt Federal Tax Code and the IRS that goes with it.” He advocated a simple, fair, flat tax. He believes that dramatic tax reform will create millions of new, good paying jobs and rebuild the manufacturing jobs in America.

Santorum pointed out that there is an energy revolution in shale and renewable energy. That energy revolution has allowed the United States to regain the position of world leader in energy production. He promised that with low cost energy and his plan, the United States will regain the title of world leader in manufacturing.

He promised that on the first day of his Presidency he will revoke every executive order and regulation that cost American jobs. With that note, he turned to illegal immigration and its impact on the wages of the American worker. His approach on illegal immigration is not a criticism of immigrants.

“Yesterday, the largest pro-worker immigration group just published a survey that showed that only one candidate got an “A” standing behind American workers, and he is standing here today.”

Moving from jobs and immigration, he quickly touched on three other subjects. He made reference to class warfare, the family, and education, taking a specific shot at Common Core.

“It is time we have a President who sees the struggle of working families in America not as an opportunity to divide us along race or class but as a chance to unite us around the ideal that every child in America deserves her birthright — to be raised by her parents in a healthy home. Stronger families and more jobs are a result of better schools. But our children, well, they deserve an education customized — customized, to maximize their potential. The first step in that process is joining me to drive a stake in the heart of Common Core.”

Rick Santorum’s father worked at the Veteran’s Administration hospital. He grew up in base housing at the VA hospital. It is evident that his feelings about the treatment of veterans is not just a focus-group tested issue.

“I can’t forget about the other people that I grew up with out at the VA in Butler — our wounded warriors. I saw the price of freedom. I saw the cost of failed political leadership. The Obama-Clinton team, they don’t understand that peace comes through strength. But 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, take back America, and help these veterans.”

Santorum then addressed the matter of experience in foreign policy and as Commander in Chief.

“As you have seen, Commander in Chief is not an entry-level position. And 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.”

He noted that he was featured in an on-line magazine of ISIS labeled as their enemy.

“They know who I am. And I know who they are…. Ladies and gentlemen, if I am the next President, we will defeat them.”

He moved from foreign policy to the basic rights that we hold dearly as Americans – life and liberty. He is unapologetic about his pro-life position.

“As President, I will stand for the principle that every life matters. The poor, the disabled, and the unborn. I will also fight for the freedom for you to believe what you are called to believe, not just in your places of worship, but outside of your places of worship too.”

Rick Santorum’s family has lived through tragic and challenging times in their lives. One of their son’s, Gabriel, lived only two hours after birth. Their daughter, Bella, was born with a condition that doctor’s said would take her life before her first birthday. (She just celebrated her 7th birthday and was there with the Santorum family at the event.)

He took the same principle of trust in God and applied it to the true solutions for our nation.

“Karen and I have learned a lot in our life. If there is one thing we have learned, man is limited and God is not. There is much that we can do. But first, we need to pray for the same kind of great awakening that inspired and provided our founding to come to this country to heal our land.”

He supported that promise with reminding his audience that there are going to be a lot of announcements by people running for President. He said to look at the record and then listed in rapid fashion his record.

“I went to Washington and said, …

I was going to fight corruption – I delivered.
I went to end welfare, reduce poverty, put people back to work – I delivered.
I went to give patients control of health care – I delivered.
I went to end partial-birth abortion – I delivered.
I went to impose sanctions on Syria and Iran, protect the State of Israel and this country – I delivered.
I went to cut taxes and promised never to raise them – I delivered.”

Santorum make a very critical point about why he believes that he can win the Presidency. He asked a question and then gave the answer.

“How does someone with a conservative voting record get elected twice in the state of Pennsylvania, where there is over a million more registered Democrats than Republicans? Because I stood for you and against big government in Washington, DC.”

Rick Santorum is a scrappy fighter who will not back down from his convictions. He does not hold his finger to the wind to see what position he should take. His strategy is to rebuild the Ronald Reagan coalition of religious conservatives and the general membership of labor unions.

You may recall that Reagan rarely got labor union leaders on his side. He did not need them because he had the votes of labor union members on his side. Santorum appeals to that same demographic. His announcement speech made that crystal clear.

“Fighting in those races both here in Southwestern Pennsylvania and across Pennsylvania, I know what it is like to be an underdog. Four years ago, well, no one gave us much of a chance. But we won 11 states. We got 4 million votes. And it is not just because I stood for something. It’s because I stood for someone — the American worker.”

Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes. It went Democrat in the last election. If Republicans can change Pennsylvania, then they will likely change several other key swing states and take the White House. Santorum will, no doubt, drive this message home as a part of his strategy.

He built on the experience of his last run for the Republican nomination four years ago as he closed his speech.

“The last race, we changed the debate. This race, with your help, and God’s grace, we can change this nation.”


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