Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) launched his second consecutive White House bid on Wednesday, highlighting his blue-collar roots and vowing to fight for the workers he said have been left behind in President Obama's economy.

“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 of the United States,” Santorum said at a manufacturing facility in rural Cabot, Pa., near where he grew up.

Santorum at one point thrust a piece of raw coal into the air, recalling the mill and mine workers he said “got off their shifts and coached us in sports and in life.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“As Middle America is hollowed out, we can’t sit idly by as big government politicians make it harder for our workers and turn around and blame them,” he said. “Working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money, and today is the day we are going to begin to fight back.”

He also took a shot at Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, for coming out in favor of a pathway for citizenship for those in the country illegally, saying her stance would negatively impact low-wage American workers.

“Hillary Clinton and big businesses have called for a massive influx in unskilled labor,” he said. “Big business does it to control costs. Hillary does it, well, she just wants votes. Their priorities are profits and power. My priority is you, the American worker.”

Santorum also played to the conservative Christian base that supported him strongly in 2012, when he finished a surprise second in the Republican primary race to eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

“We must take back America for those who seek to deny us our God-given rights to life and liberty,” he said. “As president, I will stand on the principle that every life matters — the poor, the disabled, and the unborn.”

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that man is limited, and God is not. There’s much that we can do, but first we need to pray for the same kind of great awakening that inspired our founders to come to this country, and heal our land.”

Santorum will leave Pennsylvania on Wednesday for a four-day swing through the early-voting states of Iowa and South Carolina, where he has town-hall events and roundtable meetings planned in seven cities across both states.

The former Pennsylvania senator will be looking to build on his success in 2012, when he emerged as the most formidable threat to Romney. Santorum edged Romney in the Iowa caucuses and pulled heavily from a base of social conservatives and evangelical Christians on his way to winning 10 other states.

That year, Santorum ran on a shoestring budget buoyed by a few big donors, like conservative Christian activist Foster Friess, who sent millions to Santorum’s super-PAC. 

Santorum says his operations will be better-funded this time around.

“Obviously, we learned something from the last campaign,” Santorum told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview recorded shortly before his announcement. “Number one, we’re gonna have more money.”

However, Santorum faces a far different political landscape heading into 2016.

Many Republicans attribute his 2012 success to a weak field and are doubtful he’ll be able to duplicate that success now, with several strong contenders running for the nomination.

Santorum faces stiff competition from a handful of other candidates looking to pull from his base of Christian conservatives, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses; Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Cruz in 2016 said 'something fundamentally wrong' with Christians who back Trump: book Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid MORE (R-Texas); retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Santorum might even have a difficult time qualifying for the GOP debates.

Fox News and CNN are capping the number of candidates for their first debates at 10, based on national polling numbers.

Santorum is currently in 10th place nationally in the Republican field with 2.3 percent support, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls. He’s also buried in 10th place in Iowa, taking only 3 percent support.

“It’s early,” Santorum told ABC News. “I don’t worry too much about where things are now.”