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. Google Santorum

    Go Rick!

    June 6, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. Jeff in Virginia

    Santorum doesn't have a chance, not when he has to battle against Palin and Bachmann for the frothing-at-the-mouth wingnut vote.

    June 6, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. JOE

    Santorum's father came to the United States from Italy to live the American dream and he has been sucessful is seeing his son get an education and become a well known public servant. Now Mr. Santorum has decided to join the elite party of no who's main objective to deny 3/4 of America the American dream. Go figure that out. So what would be his promise to 3/4 of America, those outside of the 3% of America's millionaires and billionaires? And what does it really say about this guy's character when he chooses Rush Limbaugh's talk show as one of his initial platforms to talk to the American people? What does that really tell you about this guy? Go figure that out.

    June 6, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  4. DIANA

    I'd think twice about this. Not many people know who he is and will Google his name.

    June 6, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    Santorum/Palin in 2012 (or vice versa). It doesn't matter because they would be defeated in the biggest landslide in political history. A zealot and a twit....the best the GOP can scratch from the gutter.

    June 6, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. IFtheyaintcoservativeNOvoteforthem

    All this is a plan to split the Conservative vote. Cain is the man.

    June 6, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. madcow

    I need to check with my broker and see what exchange "Santorum, Inc" is being traded on. That way, I can sell short and make a fortune.

    June 6, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. George

    Santorum's Campaign slogan – "Hate:it's what's for breakfast."

    June 6, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. arizonamom

    Did I miss something here? I could have sworn that April 1st has already come and gone.

    June 6, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  10. bob

    This guy continues the string of jokers wanting to be the Repug nominee. "Trump"ed by Palin in his ignorance. . .

    June 6, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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