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Blue Collar Republican: Why Rick Santorum may run for president again in 2016

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Blue Collar Republican: Why Rick Santorum may run for president again in 2016

Blue Collar Republican: Why Rick Santorum may run for president again in 2016

The Fine Print

Rick Santorum is not shy about discussing his presidential ambitions.

“I'm certainly open to it,” the former Republican presidential candidate and Pennsylvania senator told “The Fine Print” during an interview following his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Santorum, who next month will publish a new book “Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America that Works,” said the GOP has fallen short in connecting with working-class Americans.

“I think if you look at where we've dropped the ball is that we haven't connected to people who are struggling in America today,” Santorum said, arguing this is the reason Republicans failed to reclaim the White House in the 2012 election.

“We didn't have any policies or even a campaign targeted toward talking to them where they are and letting them understand how we can help them get to where they're going,” he said. “We're different than the Democrats. We're not going to pay you to move you up the ladder. We're going to give you the opportunity to work and encourage a healthy community.”

President Obama’s economic policies have only further “widened the gap” of income inequality in the country, Santorum said. It was imperative, he said, for Republicans to present alternatives to voters.

“We need to paint the picture of what his policies are doing. And then paint a picture of what we can do,” he said, pointing to manufacturing and the energy sector as potential places for growth.

While some of the GOP’s newer rising stars, such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, may get more attention during major Republican gatherings like CPAC, Santorum is making the case that experience is more important than winning a popularity contest.

“I think a lot of people out here, you know sort of tell people, well you know this is what you got to do and you know we have to have this kind of candidate or that kind of candidate,” Santorum said. “And I think until you've walked that … you don't really have an understanding of really the dynamics at play in a presidential race.”

He argued that exciting fresh faces don’t always make good presidents.

“We tried a guy right off the shelf in the last eight years,” he said, referring to Obama. “I don't think it's worked out particularly well for America. … He went to Washington, D.C., divided the country, and has made it almost a stalemate. Nothing gets done. And that's, that is not a template that I think Republicans want to repeat.”

He cautioned the GOP against adopting an isolationist foreign policy, as has been advocated and applauded by Paul, the Kentucky Republican senator.

“I would just say that we need someone who has someone who has a better understanding of the proper role for America in the world,” Santorum said.

Santorum said isolationism is a “dangerous place for the country" and would be unwise for the Republican Party to “court the idea.”

On the topic of Hillary Clinton, whose husband President Bill Clinton has recently received fresh criticism from Paul and others on the topic of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Santorum said the former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential candidate should be measured for her policy stances and not old scandals.

“I voted to impeach President Clinton, I didn't agree with what [he did], but you know what, that's not the issue that's before us in America,” he said. “And we need to show that the policies that this administration and Hillary Clinton embraced, has made the world less safe.”

For more of the interview with Santorum, including his memory of loudly scolding “The Fine Print’s” Jeff Zeleny in the waning days of the 2012 Republican primary campaign, check out this episode.

ABC News’ Michael Conte, Arlette Saenz, Tom Thornton, Pat French, and Tom Staton contributed to this episode.

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