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Attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference enthusiastically welcomed former presidential candidate Rick Santorum Friday. The Western Center for Journalism was there as he encouraged Republicans to package their message in a way that unites the country behind ideals that benefit everyone.

While many CPAC speakers understandably stress the importance of winning elections, he explained that such advocacy often entails losing.

“We have to lose those current unfashionable stances on cultural and limited government issues,” he said, stressing that victory at the expense of principle is hollow.

“We’re told we have to put aside what we believe is in the best interest of the country so a Republican candidate can win,” he said, calling such a Pyrrhic victory “a win for a Republican candidate but a devastating loss for America.”

During recent campaigns, he lamented, the GOP has “put forth candidates who keep on apologizing for the principles they say they believe in.”

Santorum asserted that he sought the presidency in an effort to unite Americans on common principles instead of using the leftist tactic of turning groups against one another.

“I actually put my neck out there ,” he said, “and just about every other body part.”

Instead of championing the “middle class” or embracing any other divisive term, he said, “We went out and talked about focusing on those who are working Americans.”

Too many Republican candidates, he lamented, use “class envy language that divides Americans against themselves.”

That fact is especially unfortunate, he said, because if the GOP adequately expressed conservative ideals, it would be clear that they benefit all Americans.

“Let them divide,” he said of Democrats. “Let us unify.”

Santorum confirmed that it “doesn’t exactly connect emotionally” with unemployed or underemployed voters when Republicans talk about cutting taxes for higher earners, even if those individuals are largely responsible for creating jobs. Millions of voters stayed home during the 2012 election, he said, because they couldn’t identify with either party.

“Now we’re here because we didn’t connect with them,” he said.

Tragically, Obama “got the vote of the people who are most economically vulnerable” despite the fact that “we are the party who has the policies that will work best for these folks.”

While attracting job-creators is important for the Republican Party, he said “we also need folks who are going to work 9 to 5 and go home and coach Little League.”

Conservative convictions, he noted, will attract those Americans. As 40 percent of children in the U.S. are born to unwed mothers. Santorum expressed the immediate need of stressing the importance of the family unit.

“How about if we have a movement to reclaim the true beautiful institution of marriage?” he proposed.

Instead of exclusively showcasing successful entrepreneurs during the 2012 election, he said the Republican Party should have highlighted the working citizens who depend on those jobs.

“We talked about job creators,” he recalled, noting “we didn’t send one server in a restaurant to go out on stage and talk about how grateful she was that her employer sacrificed a lot to hire her.”

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