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Rick Santorum touts small-town values

January 18, 2012|By Kim Geiger
  • Rick Santorum at a campaign event in Spartanburg, S.C., on Wednesday.
Rick Santorum at a campaign event in Spartanburg, S.C., on Wednesday. (David Goldman / Associated…)

Reporting from Laurens, S.C. —

Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign stormed into this sleepy town with a message geared at small-town conservatives.

"The voters who are necessary for us to win [the general election] aren’t the white-collar liberal elite or moderates in New York City,” Santorum told a crowd of about 50 voters, many of them still undecided. “The swing states in this election, they’re going to decide this race. Well, that’s where I come from.“

Santorum touted his background, having grown up in public housing, the son of an immigrant and coal mining family.

“It’s a story that resonates, and I have policies to fit the story,” he said.

Santorum is one of three socially conservative candidates vying for the support of the more conservative wing of the party in this first-in-the-South primary state. Though his bona fides as a social conservative were bolstered last weekend when 85 of 114 religious leaders voted to back his candidacy, voters here said they were most worried about the economy, not social issues.

Standing before a stage at the Capitol Theatre and Cafe, a restored movie theater on Laurens’ single-square-block downtown plaza, Santorum cast his economic agenda as a defense of small-town values.

Reviving the country’s manufacturing base is crucial to preventing future generations from moving into cities, where there’s “a whole different value structure,” he said.

“They’re not going to be participating in small-town life,” he said. “They’re not going to be connected to mainstream America or to God and his creation.

“If you want to keep America and its traditional values in place, then we have to have an economic policy that allows all of America to be competitive.”

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