Rick Santorum made his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination “official” this week and he’s back in Iowa for town hall meetings with Iowans. His first stop this afternoon was at a restaurant in Davenport, where he met with about 100 people.
“I know the difference between: ‘I like you’ and ‘I’m for you’ and ‘I’ll vote for you,'” Santorum told Radio Iowa, laughing. “And I learned that the last time around and we got a lot of ‘I’ll vote for’ and ‘I’m with you’ and ‘How can I help you?’ and those were great things to hear.”
Santorum scored a come-from-behind victory in Iowa’s 2012 Caucuses, but he enters the 2016 race in the same position, with scarce campaign funds and a low position in the polls. He is hoping to capitalize an economic message that focuses not only on a “flat” federal income tax and a “short-term stimulus” for America’s manufacturing sector, but raising the minimum wage =- a far less popular proposal in Republican circles.
“One of the things I’ve learned is you put together an entire economic package and you do so to get support from really across the aisle and across the country,” Santorum said.
Ever since Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, Santorum has been arguing Republicans need to “connect” with more than just the “job creators” but with American workers as well. Santorum also said voters are focused on foreign policy concerns more than they have in any presidential election since 2004. Santorum suggested Rand Paul, a competitor who campaigned in eastern Iowa on Thursday as well, has made “uneducated” assertions about the rise of Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq.
“ISIS didn’t form because they had weapons,” Santorum told Radio Iowa. “They formed because they have an ideology and they have a mission that they want to accomplish.”
Santorum suggested Paul’s support of withdrawing American troops from Iraq in 2011 is a greater contributor to today’s ISIS crisis than giving U.S. military equipment to Syrian rebels that is now in the hands of ISIS fighters. Santorum is scheduled to hold another “town hall” meeting early Friday morning in the conference room of a Hy-Vee store in Council Bluffs.