Santorum talks economy, touts underdog status at business roundtable event

The New Hampshire House Business Coalition, a bi-partisan caucus of House members that are either small business owners or have a focus on issues facing the business community, held its third presidential candidate roundtable Wednesday morning in Concord. Events to date have featured Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul; former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum got his opportunity to address the group Wednesday.

“We want to provide a vehicle for employers to learn more about the candidates’ specific ideas for improving the business climate and economy in America. The New Hampshire House Business Coalition strives to continually maintain a dialogue between the legislature and employers so we can pass good legislation that promotes private sector job creation and expansion of the economy,” said coalition Chairwoman Rep. Laurie Sanborn, who co-owns Concord hotspot The Draft along with her husband, State Senator Andy Sanborn about the event, “It’s important to know how these Presidential candidates plan to address these same issues for our country.”

About 25-30 State Representatives and area business community leaders gathered at the New Hampshire Technical Institute, where Santorum gave a short, 20-minute speech and then took questions which attendees had written on index cards on the way into the event.

In his remarks, Santorum sought to emphasize his credentials as a conservative fighter during his years in Washington, drawing parallels between that and his current underdog status in the presidential race. “When I went to Washington we were in a small minority,” he said, referring to his membership in the conservative group known as the ‘Gang of Seven’ after his election to the U.S. House in 1990. “We took a stand and we blew the lid off Washington,” he said, detailing his willingness to take on his own party leadership.

Turning to the economy, Santorum hit on a popular topic from Tuesday night’s debate: fellow candidate Herman Cain’s economic plan. “Herman has his 9-9-9 plan and I have my 0-0-0- plan,” he quipped, laying out a plan to bring the corporate tax down to zero, zero out the tax on repatriated property from American companies who had moved operations overseas, and repeal all Obama administration regulations costing over $100 million.

Santorum believes his plan could garner the bipartisan support it would likely need to pass the Senate, claiming his approach would revitalize American manufacturing, and that the resultant economic growth would more than make up for lost revenue.

Both in his speech and during the Q&A that followed, Santorum cited overregulation as a key hindrance to the economy and business community. Specifically, Santorum cited regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). He also spoke, clearly from experience, about wasteful practices regarding government programs and employees, and advocated for the elimination of public employee unions, which drew loud applause from the audience.

Finally, Santorum touched on marriage and the family, a topic he is clearly passionate about. “The federal government is doing things to harm the family,” he said, and, citing data that traditional families tend to be more economically stable, continued, “If we really want to end poverty in America we can do one thing: we can encourage marriage.”

Alluding to New Hampshire’s tradition of defying conventional wisdom when selecting Primary winners, Santorum embraced his status as an underdog, telling the audience, “You’re the poll. You determine who the nominee is going to be, not the polls.”

Author: Staff Reporter

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