June 6th, 2011
09:08 AM ET
4 years ago

Santorum makes presidential run official

(CNN) - Saying "I'm ready to lead. I'm ready to do what has to be done for the next generation," all-but-declared Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum did just that, officially jumping into the race for the White House.

But the former two-term senator from Pennsylvania could face long odds and much better funded rivals in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Santorum made his comments Monday morning, at a campaign event in Somerset County in the western part of his home state, near where his grandfather worked in a coal mine after coming to America from Italy. Santorum said his grandfather came to Somerset County to escape fascist Italy, to "give his children, my dad, who seven years old when he came in 1930, the opportunity for freedom, to live your dreams, because he knew American believed in him, believed in people, gave people a shot, if they worked hard, they could succeed."

A few hours earlier, in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America, Santorum said "we're ready to get into this race, and we're in it to win."

The announcement kicks off a four-day campaign swing that will take Santorum to Iowa, the state which holds the first contest in the presidential primary and caucus calendar, and New Hampshire, which holds the first primary in the race for the White House. And his appearance on "Good Morning America" is the first of nearly 20 interviews on television and radio, including appearances on Rush Limbaugh's and Glenn Beck's radio programs. The former Fox News contributor will also appear twice on that network during his campaign rollout.

Santorum is arguably the most frequent flyer in the battle for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Since 2009 he has made 14 trips to Iowa, 17 to New Hampshire and 15 to South Carolina, the state that holds the first southern primary.

Late last year, Santorum started building up staff in these crucial early voting states. On May 3, he announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, filing papers with the Federal Election Commission. Two days later, he participated in the first GOP presidential debate, in Greenville, South Carolina. Santorum will appear next Monday at a CNN/WMUR/New Hampshire Union Leader debate in the Granite State.

But for all his travel and appearances, Santorum still has very low name recognition among most Americans, and according to just about every poll, he registers in the low single digits nationally among Republican voters when it comes to the choice for their party's next presidential nominee.

But, due in part to his strong opposition to abortion rights and gay rights, Santorum remains popular with many socially conservative voters who have long had an influential role in the GOP primary process. Earlier this spring, Santorum made headlines by winning a much-watched straw poll at the Greenville County, South Carolina Republican convention.

At the Faith and Freedom conference, a gathering of social conservatives, in Washington Saturday, Santorum touted his credentials saying "I had always been pro life, I had always been for traditional marriage, but I had always been like a lot of folks – a lot of folks who weren't here last year but are here this year who come and make the pledge, vow to social conservatives that they'll check the boxes, they'll be for the things social conservatives care about. Ladies and gentlemen I don't just take the pledge, I take the bullets."

Santorum is also emphasizing his pro-Israel stance as well as his experience in the Senate when it comes to foreign policy, which could distinguish him from most of his rivals.

And he is hyping his fiscal conservative credentials. In his interview on ABC, Santorum suggested that House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan's controversial budget is not strong enough, saying "not even Paul Ryan and his budget now has the temerity to go after Social Security,"

Santorum, who has seven children, was elected to the House in 1990, at age 32, and first elected to the Senate four years later. He lost his 2006 re-election bid by 18 points to Democrat Bob Casey Jr. and until last year was largely out of public view except for appearances on Fox News.

– On Monday, June 13, CNN will host the first New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, live from Manchester, NH at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on CNNPolitics.com and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. rfk

    Why does he even bother? Waste of time and money. He is only going to solidify his annoying base and then drop off and then sell books and go back to fringe TV. The only good thing about it is the increase in news people discussing Dan Savage's hilarious project.

    June 6, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  2. Vader

    Oh boy! Another of the Repugnican dwarves is in the hunt. Wow! Another stellar option to consider.

    June 6, 2011 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  3. Was Buf., Now Was.

    Oh, and you've gotta love that he's choosing Somerset, PA as his announcement locale... As Rudy Giuliani proved in 2008, running for president solely on the basis of the memory of 9/11 does wonders for a candidacy.

    June 6, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  4. George

    This guy doesn't have a chance against our future president, The Donald. TRUMP/PALIN ALL THE WAY IN THE USA 2012 !!

    June 6, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  5. SoundBitten

    I have no idea why he's running. He did little if anything subsantial for Pennsylvania as US Senator. He's too wrapped up in idealism. Perhaps preaching rather than politics would suit him better. I don't see how he has helped or will help anyone unemployed get back to work.

    June 6, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  6. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Hi, I'm Rick Santorum and here is my platform to run for President:
    1. Propose a Constitutional Amendment to make all abortions illegal, punishable by the death penalty for both the doctor and the mother.
    2. Propose a Constitutional Amendment to deny all civil rights protections to anyone who is not a Heterosexual. I may want to add to this to further deny civil rights protections to anyone who is not Male White Fundamentalist Christian, but will wait until after Ralph Reed tells me I can do so.
    3. Propose a Constitutional Amendment that overturns all my previous election losses, especially the ones where I lost by double digits.

    June 6, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I wonder where he will claim to be from... He was nailed for not living in PA when he ran for re-election as senator. I don't think he can really be effective. He seems to be a bitter conservative that doesn't like anyone but those that agree with him.

    June 6, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  8. Rockson

    Another GOP clown !!

    June 6, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  9. Bill

    This announcement will be immediately swept off the front pages and replaced by wall-to-wall coverage of the first idiotic statement that Palin makes today ... and she will make at least one to ensure that the spotlight remains on her rather than some other GOP presidential wannabe.

    June 6, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  10. Kanoodle

    Sorry snake sanorum. You are too right wing to ever become president.
    You are wasting your time and money. Have fun trying.

    June 6, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  11. Alex

    Such crude language. How dare CNN use the word S*ntorum?

    June 6, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  12. Donald Newman

    This former PA Senator who actually lived in Virginia and rented a house that was vacant in the Pittsburgh suburbs wants to run for president.This must be an late April fools joke,this man got crushed in the last senator race in PA. and even lost big in his own supposedly community.His record isn't good America would be making a HUGE mistake giving this guy the keys to our nation.If you dont believe me just check the facts before you vote.

    June 6, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  13. El Kababa

    Another cookie-cutter Conservative comes out of the GOP clown car. Republicans should cancel the primaries and the Convention. They should just draw the name of a registered Republican from the voter lists. It would save money and odds are they would get a better candidate that way.

    June 6, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. Cynthia

    Rick who!!!!!!!! Another lame brain that is just trying to secure his lifetime pension and healthcare for him and his family.

    June 6, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  15. A Kickin` Donkey

    Two years ago, in 2009 when the President took office, the Republican party was afraid of dying. It had NO new idea or SOLUTIONS, nor did it have any compelling, inspiring people that could unite and lead the country.

    As I look at this year`s crop of candidates including former, failed western PA Senator Santorum all I see are re-treads.

    Someone should tell the GOP that they don`t have to run someone against President Obama. They would be best to just forfeit 2012 and wait for 2016.

    By that time Rubio, christie, Ryan, Haley, West, Huntsman and Jindal will each have 6 to 8 years of experience and won`t have been thrown out of office by voters like Santorum [who lost his re-relection by 18 basis points].

    June 6, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  16. DaveNCA

    Save your money Little Ricky. You can't run a country on anti-gay lies and hysteria.

    June 6, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  17. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Much like Sarah Palin, whose national security credentials boast that Alaska was not invaded by Russia when she was half governor, Santorum can tout his hard work to make sure that not all Americans will have constitutional rights. Together, they are the dream team for idiots.

    June 6, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  18. jw

    This guy is a real tool.

    June 6, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Food for thought:
    The only way to win the 2012 Grand Old Tea Party presidential nomination is to "be the beast" that satisfies the angry faction of the Republican Party. But, in becoming that beast that candidate must metaphorically sell his/her soul to the hard right devil, which is dominating the party. Once you become a vampire, you are a vampire for life, forever staining your political career. Barring another crisis or controversy, there is no way that the majority of Independents will vote for a "beast". This is why the smart Republican hopefuls are staying out of the race this cycle, and content to instigate the race down the home stretch.

    June 6, 2011 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  20. Alex

    What an irony. His granddad escaped from fascist Italy and now he wants to establish is fascist America.

    June 6, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  21. Seattle Sue

    He may be a Presidential candidate but he still is a radial religious Republican. He will never be President,

    June 6, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  22. 6

    He doesn't stand a good chance of winning, but now that Huckabee is out of the race, Santorum is the best candidate. Good morals, good ideas, good guy!

    June 6, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  23. Center Fielder

    Whoopee. The good news is that the Republicans are going to see their right-wing idealogues swept away, and maybe the more moderate wing of the party can begin to drive the agenda back to the center.

    June 6, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  24. Dennis

    He's in it to cash in.

    June 6, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  25. buttnose

    What a frothing mix of Fascism.

    June 6, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
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