Rick Santorum reaches out to blue-collar voters on the trail by sharing the story of his Italian immigrant grandfather who hated fascism under Mussolini and went to America.
Although Santorum often talks about his grandfather in campaign speeches, many were first introduced to this story in Santorum's strong speech following the Iowa caucus results.
"He ended up continuing to work in those mines until he was 72 years old, digging coal." Santorum said, "I’ll never forget the first time I saw someone who had died. It was my grandfather. And I knelt next to his coffin. And all I could do — eye level — was look at his hands. They were enormous hands. And all I could think was those hands dug freedom for me."
The story of Pietro Santorum is already making its way into Italian news organizations.
“You must go back to the lesson of my grandfather, who worked hard, with no excuses and no complaints.” Santorum told Italian media outlet LASTAMPA, when asked how Europe and Italy could fix their financial crisis. (translation here)
Today in New Hampshire, Santorum recalled his grandfather's lifestyle.
"My Grandfather was a stern tough guy, he was tough," said Santorum who recalled that his grandfather was a hunched man due to a scoliosis in his back.
"He was a big strong man, but he smoked everything all day long," Santorum said, "Pipes, cigars, cigarettes . . .he had whiskey in the morning with his coffee. . . he was a larger than life figure for me."