(CNN) - A potential 2012 presidential candidate is feeding the flames.
Former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum told Politico Wednesday that most of the buzzed about candidates aren't Tea Party candidates. On the other hand, he said he and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson come close.
"There isn't a single candidate running for president who can claim to be a Tea Party candidate," Santorum told Politico. "That's by definition. The people involved in the movement weren't involved in politics, and were only activated by what they saw in Washington."
Santorum and Johnson no longer hold elected office, a fact Santorum said qualifies them as possible Tea Party candidates.
"I qualify," Santorum said. "I was out, content to be out, but now I feel compelled to come back."
Santorum is sometimes mentioned as a possible presidential candidate and says he will make a decision early next year. He traveled extensively to Iowa and South Carolina during the primary season and was in New Hampshire in early November, all states that are sites of early presidential primary battles.