Santorum Talks Up His Chances

by Robert Costa

Five years ago, he was crushed at the polls. But former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum argues that he can win the GOP presidential nomination, especially if voters pay attention to his congressional accomplishments.

Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, Santorum made his case. “I am someone who has been out there for 16 years, having the courage to lead on a variety of conservative issues when they were not popular,” he said. “I was leading on entitlement reform; I was the guy that wrote the Contract with America’s welfare-reform bill, when welfare reform was seen as throwing grandma out on the street. I was out there leading that charge and was able to be successful in the United States Senate in getting 70 votes to end a federal entitlement.”

“I was out there talking about Social Security reform in 2005 and 2006,” he continued. “When George Bush said ‘charge’ after the 2004 election, that we have got to take on Social Security, Jim DeMint and I ran to the floor of the United States Senate and I did town meetings all around Pennsylvania. I turned around, and there was not anybody behind me.”

Santorum also championed his foreign-policy record and his leadership on pro-life issues. “If you take any issue area, I have had the courage to go out, on controversial issues, and take leadership roles.”

On the political front, much like Tim Pawlenty focuses on his blue collar, South St. Paul roots, Santorum, a longtime resident of western Pennsylvania, talked up his connection to “working Americans.”

“I grew up in a steel town, Butler, Pennsylvania,” he said. “I used to take the bus into school and go by the mills. If you could smell the smoke, you thought, ‘people were working, that was a good thing.’ Well, we don’t want to smell the smoke anymore, but we want those people working.”