Rick Santorum Launches Second White House Bid

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Republican former senator seeks to appeal as a champion of the working class

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum launched his second campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, attempting to bolster his reputation as a social-issues warrior with an appeal as a champion of the working class.

“I am proud to stand here among you and for you, the American workers who have sacrificed so much, to announce that I am running for president,” Mr. Santorum said at his launch event in Cabot, Pa. Mr. Santorum criticized big government, pledged to roll back regulations seen as hurting industry and promised to offer a “clear and conservative” vision for America.

Mr. Santorum, who opened the speech with a piece of coal in one hand and an American flag in the other, hopes outreach to lower-income Americans, combined with his base of support among evangelical Christians and the party’s most conservative voters, will propel him ahead of better-funded candidates with establishment backing.

The strategy builds on his 2012 bid as a lunch-bucket conservative with a populist economic tone and a focus on social issues, an image that appealed to voters who felt eventual nominee Mitt Romney was insufficiently conservative.

At his launch event, Mr. Santorum pledged to restore the manufacturing industry, to create more jobs for American workers and to restore the U.S.’s global standing. Of the extremist group Islamic State, he said, “They know who I am and I know who they are,” and said as president he would defeat the group.

He also promised to shrink the size of government, saying the U.S. “doesn’t need another president tied to big government or big money.” As he spoke, Foster Friess, a mutual-fund investor who spent millions in 2012 bankrolling a super PAC supporting Mr. Santorum, stood in the crowd.

Mr. Santorum also knocked Democratic front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, criticizing her and President Barack Obama’s foreign policy as “failed political leadership.”

Republicans, Mr. Santorum says, must improve their standing among the roughly 70% of Americans without a college degree—voters who feel the party has turned its back on them.

Since 2012, Mr. Santorum has softened his tone on social issues such as abortion, a prominent subject in his last campaign. In an interview with NBC earlier this year, he acknowledged he had previously said “dumb things” about abortion and contraception. In 2012, he suggested that rape victims seeking an abortion instead “make the best out of a bad situation.”

But he has taken a tougher position on immigration, faulting legal immigration for driving down wages in a CNN interview earlier this year. He also called for drastically reducing legal immigration.

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