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GOP White House hopefuls bring debate to St. Louis

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EDMUNDSON, MO (KTVI) -Conservative activists from around the nation had a close up look at six of the Republican Party’s presidential hopefuls during a gathering in St. Louis this weekend.

All 17 of the Republican candidates were invited to attend the St. Louis based Eagle Forum’s Eagle Council. On Friday, former Texas governor Rick Perry made news during his speech when he became the first of the candidates to announce he was suspending his bid for the White House.

Saturday afternoon former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum called for a change in how Republicans target votes from American workers. He told the crowd the GOP has a chance to change the electoral landscape by attracting blue-collar voters who stayed home four years ago.

Senator Santorum said “If you want to win we have to be the party of the American worker.  We are going to make sure we are not  flooding this country with unskilled workers to dilute the wage earning power of American workers."

Santorum said the US needs to reduce its legal immigration by 25%. That is a contrast to his fellow candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz wants to double the number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S.  Cruz, who spoke Saturday morning, challenged President Barack Obama over funding Planned Parenthood.

Saturday night, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul appeared at a dinner where his mother was honored by Eagle Forum with its “Fulltime Homemaker” Award. Before the dinner, Paul expressed confidence his campaign will pick up steam.

Speaking of voters he said, “It takes a while to get to the truth and some people succumb to the glow of celebrity at first, but I think people are ultimately going to say who is going to make government smaller?  That’s why I ran for office.”

Paul disputed Santorum’s criticism that American workers have suffered because immigrant labor has forced down salaries.   “Really the truth is kind of the opposite,” Rand asserted.  “We have  worker programs and when you come to our country through a migrant worker visa, the people employing you have to  prove that there is a need,” he said adding, “you actually have to advertise for Americans to come in and work.”

Dr. Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke Friday afternoon.  The three-day Eagle Council concludes Sunday.