Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum Are Auditioning for the Same Part in 2016

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No *I'm* the biggest champion for the working class.

On Wednesday, Rick Santorum will announce his plans to run for president. The winner of the 2012 Republican caucus in Iowa is polling dreadfully low in a crowded race that already includes plenty of candidates with mediocre numbers. To make matters more difficult, this time around Santorum is auditioning for a role that Mike Huckabee, who skipped 2012, would also like to fill.

Presidential elections can be strangely like Shakespeare plays, revived every four years with a new cast of politicians (and maybe some familiar faces) playing the same characters: the protagonists, the villains, the comic relief, the scene-stealers, etc. There is always a role in the Republican primary for the “unapologetic social conservative” who is also a “champion of the working class” — a part Huckabee played in 2008, and Santorum filled in 2012. Now they’re trying to reprise the same role — at the same time.

So, for your consideration: The strangely identical — at least as described in campaign coverage — blue-collar ways of Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

Unapologetic social conservative” Rick Santorum

March 6, 2012, Associated Press

An unapologetic social conservative, Santorum has cast the race in biblical terms: He’s David vs. Romney’s Goliath

January 16, 2012, CNN

Santorum, who bills himself as an unapologetic social conservative, has been known to engage in arguments with audience members on the campaign trail over his opposition to same-sex marriage.

December 31, 2011, CBS News

An unapologetic social conservative who strongly opposes same-sex marriage and abortion rights, Santorum is a good fit with the Iowa Republican electorate, which is dominated by evangelical and born again voters.

Unapologetic social conservative” Mike Huckabee

May 5, 2015, CBS News

He’s pitching himself as an unapologetic social conservative who can also make inroads with blue-collar voters on bread-and-butter economic issues.

January 26, 2016, the Washington Post

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who ran as an unapologetic social conservative in 2008, won the caucuses going away in 2008.

Champion of the Working Class” Rick Santorum

May 27, 2015, The Wall Street Journal

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is set to launch his second presidential campaign in Pittsburgh Wednesday, attempting to bolster his reputation as a social-issues warrior with an appeal as a champion of the working class.

January 12, 2015, National Review

His 2014 book, Blue Collar Conservatives, was an explicit rejection of the GOP economic platform as well as an attempt to rebrand himself: Santorum the culture warrior became the champion of the working class.

January 8, 2012, National Journal

Not only did Santorum almost entirely fail to land a glove on Romney, he did very little to identify himself as the champion of working-class, blue-collar families. 

Champion of the Working Class” Mike Huckabee

June 1, 2015, National Review

Huckabee will present himself as the champion of the working class and the elderly, or at least of the white Evangelicals among them.

May 5, 2015, New York Times

Like Mr. Clinton, Mr. Huckabee grew up with little and casts himself as a populist champion of the working class, though with conservative solutions.

May 5, 2015, CBS 6

In a preview video on his website, Huckabee positions himself as a champion of the working class, stating, “We raised average family incomes 50 percent. We didn’t slash, burn or hurt people, leave people impoverished … we empowered people to live a better life.”

January 5, 2008, Denver Post

But Huckabee doesn’t accept that line, and he is trying to both champion the working class and criticize big government — the more expected proponent of the hard-working classes.

Staunch Social Conservative” Rick Santorum

May 6, 2015, Reuters

A staunch social conservative, Santorum finished second to eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

May 2, 2015, Breitbart News

Santorum, a staunch social conservative, told reporters he believes Jenner when he says he is a woman.

August 13, 2011, CNN

Santorum, a staunch social conservative, centered his remarks around fixing the struggling economy but made sure to highlight his fierce opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

May 5, 2015, the Huffington Post

Huckabee’s religion has played a prominent role in his political career and shaped him as a staunch social conservative.

January 11, 2012, CBS News

Santorum, a Catholic and staunch social conservative who strongly opposes same-sex marriage and abortion rights, does well with strongly religious voters

“Staunch Social Conservative” Mike Huckabee

May 6, 2015, CBS News

Huckabee officially announced his campaign on Tuesday in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, pitching himself as a staunch social conservative who can win blue-collar swing voters with a populist message on economic issues.

May 5, 2015, Politico

Huckabee didn’t hold back from expressing his staunch social conservative views then, but “this time around,” said Cullen, “there doesn’t seem to be any pretense that he’s doing this as a serious person.”

February 10, 2015, CNN

Huckabee, a staunch social conservative who sought the GOP nomination in 2008, said Monday on CNN suggested he doesn’t think he’ll be on the “wrong side of history” when it comes to same-sex marriage.