Rick Santorum Announces He's Running For President Again & This Time With A New Image

Yet another Republican politician is joining the 2016 presidential race — and no, it's not Jeb Bush. Former U.S. Senator and one-time Tea Party star Rick Santorum announced his second presidential bid Wednesday afternoon in his hometown of Butler, Pennsylvania, stating, "I am running for president." Santorum was the runner-up in the 2012 Republican primary, carrying 11 states and receiving nearly 4 million votes despite his ultra-conservative social mores, particularly regarding gay rights, abortion, and contraception. "Working families don't need another president tied to big government or big money," he added Wednesday.

For his second go-round, in a field that currently holds a number of socially conservative, evangelical-minded Republicans, Santorum is expected to extend his reach — or try to. The former senator attempted to appeal to blue-collar workers in 2012, using his father's origin story as the jumping-off point, but couldn't overcome being known as that guy who said pregnant rape victims "should make the best out of a bad situation."

In 2016, Santorum is planning to go with the tagline: "Restoring the American Dream for Hardworking Families." His push to attract blue-collar workers, particularly in a place such as the Rust Belt, is also quite obvious in his location choice for his big presidential announcement: Penn United Technologies, a metal manufacturing plant in Butler, a small Rust Belt city that at one point in the 20th century was a major industrial hub.

Santorum also released the nonfiction book Blue Collar Conservatives in 2014, which, according to publisher Regnery Publishing, "provides a game plan for Republicans to bounce back, regain popularity, and return to the party’s original values." The solution, the book argues, "rests on rediscovering blue collar conservatives."

Will Santorum's new image — a hardened worker who cares more about fair wages than his neighbor's same-sex marriage — work this time around? Who knows. But there's one interesting aspect about Santorum that should place him in a different light than more of his GOP peers: He supports raising minimum wage and would be the only Republican presidential candidate in the current race to support wage equality.

In an April interview with the Washington Examiner, Santorum explained that he has "proposed a 50 cents an hour raise per year for three years." While he previously rejected President Obama's proposal of raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10, Santorum isn't opposed to a federal minimum-wage increase.

"For me, it's a worker protection issue, and also an issue that connects with the people who look at the Republican agenda and don't see anything concrete that indicates we have any understanding of what folks experience at the lower end of the income spectrum," Santorum told the Examiner, breaking away from his party.

So that's pretty cool. But the GOP presidential field is so crowded that at this point, it's difficult to pinpoint where Santorum's chances lie. When Santorum announces Wednesday evening, he'll be joining Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Dr. Ben Carson, an esteemed neurosurgeon. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is also expected to announce soon.

Image: Getty Images