Rick Santorum Talks Manufacturing in Nashua

Santorum Focuses on Economy in NH

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Rick Santorum laid out his plan to jumpstart the economy before dozens of people at a Catholic college in Nashua Monday. Speaking for about an hour in 27-degree weather at Riviera College, the former Pennsylvania senator said he hopes to restructure the tax code to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

[See pictures of Republican candidates campaigning in in New Hampshire.]

"What's happened over the last couple of decades, since I was growing up in a steel town in Pennsylvania, is we've lost one very valuable section of the economy and it was one that created upward mobility," said the GOP presidential hopeful. "Manufacturing was always the key to economic growth in America."

Santorum accused President Barack Obama of "intellectual snobbery" for promoting the idea that everyone should go to college.

"Not every person wants or needs to go to college or should have to go to college," Santorum said. "Hard work, gaining skills and training, whether it's at a trade school or whatever it is, is good work and important work in this country and yet the president just believes that well, you got to go to college."

[See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

Santorum said "government policies" make manufacturing in America uncompetitive.

"That's why I put forward a plan that addresses those issues, that directly goes after this cost competitive disadvantage," he said. His plan includes proposals to eliminate the corporate tax rate for manufacturers and cut the current 35 percent corporate tax rate in half for all other businesses.

Santorum's remarks did not touch on any social issues, marking a change in tone from Iowa and his initial New Hampshire appearances. Though Santorum is perhaps best known for his social conservativism, his outspoken position against gay marriage and being pro-life, he's obviously making an effort to woo the libertarian brand of GOP voters in New Hampshire.

One audience member did ask Santorum what role his Catholicism would play in his decision-making process for going to war if he was elected president.

"The pope isn't running the United States of America," he said. "We have national security responsibilities that he doesn't. My responsibility is to use my judgment and apply the principles that a country should.

Though the audience was small, Santorum seemed to be making headway. Several people leaving the event remarked they were struck by his grasp of a variety of issues and overall intellect.

"He's really smart," said one man to his wife. "He doesn't even need a teleprompter. That was all off the cuff."

Santorum is hoping to capitalize on the momentum he gained after coming just eight votes shy of topping former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Iowa last week. He's polling near the bottom of the field in New Hampshire.

Email: rmetzler@usnews.com

Twitter: @rebekahmetzler

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