Santorum to GOP: Back off immigration

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Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who is mulling another presidential run in 2016, urged the Republican Party to oppose increased immigration rates, which he warned would depress wages.

Santorum wrapped his comments in broader remarks about the need for the GOP to reach out to middle-class and low-income voters.

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He argued that Hispanic voters, who make up a growing bloc of the electorate, would vote for Republican candidates if they see doing so in their economic self-interests.

“You want to appeal to recent immigrants?” he said at the Iowa Republican convention Saturday. “You go out and start talking to them, not about immigration. 

"We don’t have to talk about immigration. If we do, you know what we should talk about? How immigration is suppressing their wages and keeping their wages down and not allowing them and their family the opportunity to rise in America,” he added.  

He said the GOP doesn’t have to endorse “bringing in two and a half million people a year and give amnesty to 13 million people,” alluding to the reforms of the comprehensive legislation that passed the Senate last year.

He insisted that Republicans can appeal to Hispanics by stressing blue-collar economic issues.

He said most working-class voters don’t vote for Republicans because they don’t see the party as representing their interests.

The Republican Party message “is all about corporatism and business,” he lamented.

He recalled that the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa focused on President Obama’s clumsy claim that business owners didn’t build their enterprises by themselves.

“Not one time did we bring out the business owner and the worker and talk about how they built their businesses,” he said. “We can win every businessman’s vote and still lose elections by landslides. We need workers if we’re going to win.

He touted his new book, Blue Collar Conservatives," and recounted his travels around the country encouraging Republican politicians and activists to start talking about average working Americans.

“As far as a lot of workers in America are concerned, we don’t care about them because we don’t talk about them,” he said. 

He said that 70 percent of Americans do not have college degrees although a 2012 report by the Lumina Foundation found that 39.4 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 have at least a two-year college degree. 

Santorum won the 2012 Iowa Republican presidential caucus, which is traditionally dominated by populist and socially conservative activists.