Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 7, 2014, in National Harbor, Md.
Susan Walsh/AP

Santorum to GOP: ‘Stop nominating folks who apologize’ for values

Own it.

That was former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum’s message to conservatives on Friday at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in New Hampshire.

“Believe that what we have to offer is actually the right prescription for America. And stop nominating folks who apologize for what we believe in,” Santorum said, drawing applause.

The former GOP presidential candidate suggested Republicans should take a page from President Obama’s campaign playbook.

“Barack Obama didn’t apologize for what the Democratic Party believed in,” he noted. “He went out and energized the people who believed that. … He didn’t try to run to the middle. He got his people energized. You want to win? Let’s get our people energized.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who won the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, garnered criticism – from within his own party – for being too moderate.

Santorum’s comments echoed Mike Huckabee’s recent advice to the GOP on how to handle the topic of abortion. The former Arkansas Republican governor – who has hinted at another presidential run – declared Republicans could win elections by opposing abortion and running on other social issues.

Santorum also said he’s leaving the door open for another White House bid and will make a decision in the months following November’s midterm elections.

“I’m doing everything consistent with keeping my options open to do this again,” Santorumtold the New Hampshire Union Leader, adding that the race is “wide open.”

The event in Nashua played host to other Republican luminaries who are testing the waters ahead of 2016.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal remained coy about taking the presidential campaign plunge while addressing the crowd Friday.

“A lot of people are asking me if I intend to run for president in 2016. The answer is I have no plans at this time to run,” Jindal said, as quoted by theTimes-Picayune. “I will come here again and again to the state of New Hampshire to say that over and over.”

Ahead of his trip to the Granite State, Jindal launched a political action committee, called Stand up to Washington, aimed at helping conservative congressional candidates in the midterms.

Other featured attendees included New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, former Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who announced an exploratory committee for a potential New Hampshire Senate bid, and Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough.

New Hampshire and Rick Santorum

Santorum to GOP: 'Stop nominating folks who apologize' for values