6/13/13 Rick Santorum ripped Mitt Romney’s campaign Thursday for mishandling President Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build that” gaffe last summer. The former Pennsylvania senator recalled all the business owners who spoke at the Republican National Convention. “One after another, they talked about the business they had built. But not a single—not a single —factory worker went out there,” Santorum told a few hundred conservative activists at an “after-hours session” of the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington. “Not a single janitor, waitress or person who worked in that company! We didn’t care about them. You know what? They built that company too! And we should have had them on that stage.” Santorum did not mention Romney, who he challenged in the primaries, by name during a 21-minute speech in a dim ballroom at the Marriott (a company on whose board Romney sits). But there was no doubt who he was talking about. “When all you do is talk to people who are owners, talk to folks who are ‘Type As’ who want to succeed economically, we’re talking to a very small group of people,” he said. “No wonder they don’t think we care about them. No wonder they don’t think we understand them. Folks, if we’re going to win, you just need to think about who you talk to in your life.” Trying to carve out a role as a leading populist in the 2016 field, Santorum insisted that Republicans must “talk to the folks who are worried about the next paycheck,” not the CEOs. “Our leaders don’t accurately reflect who we are,” he said. “They reflect the interest groups around here who are lobbying for an advantage. Everyone who is up here is wanting an edge for their company or their industry. We’ve got to get away from that.” Santorum won 11 primaries and caucuses in 2012, including Iowa. On his way out of the room, Santorum paused to greet Iowa social conservative leader Steve Scheffler. The two agreed they should meet up when Santorum comes to Iowa this August. During his speech, Santorum also implicitly criticized the GOP for nominating Romney because it took Obamacare off the table as an issue in the general election. He said Republicans would have been able to attract more voters had they followed the 2010 playbook. Then he stressed that thorny implementation problems will give the party another chance in 2014. “I won’t go back and revisit why that was the case or who the better candidate was to do that, but suffice it to say the opportunity is going to present itself in the next year,” he said to knowing laughter. Santorum complained that, so far, Republicans in D.C. have not adequately highlighted the messiness of the Affordable Cart Act. “Why are they not sounding the alarm?” he said. “Why are we not getting ahead of this train?” Other speakers at the low-key evening session agreed with Santorum’s point. Mike Huckabee, who during his own 2008 run for president said that Romney “looks like the guy who fired you,” said that Republicans need to reach out more to “the average person Rick Santorum is talking about.” “He is so absolutely right,” the former Arkansas governor said. “The Republican message is often so horizontally presented that people often get lost in that spectrum.” Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg said Romney did not run on ideas, but Hallmark slogans. “He just seems fake, but that’s actually him,” said Goldberg. “Mitt Romney looks like the picture that came with the frame.”
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