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Santorum Inches Closer To Presidential Bid Santorum Inches Closer To Presidential Bid

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Santorum Inches Closer To Presidential Bid

He said Wednesday that the political environment he faced during his defeat - one that helped Democrats reclaim control of Congress -- is now far more favorable for Republicans. "2006 is not like 2010 or 2012," he said. "It's a very different election cycle." The former lawmaker does have some strengths for a Republican primary: Namely, his strong anti-abortion credentials are well-suited for socially conservative Iowa. Even with GOP voters focused on the economy, Santorum could gain enough traction in Hawkeye State to exceed expectations next January and vault into the race's forefront. And even if some see it as his calling card, Santorum bristles at the suggestion he is only a social conservative. He and his aides point to a 12-year record in the Senate (he served four years in the House prior) they say proves his fiscal and foreign policy credentials are just as polished as his social credentials. Santorum has unofficially explored a presidential campaign for nearly as long as any of his prospective rivals - beginning to visit the early states primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina as early as fall of 2009. His early action has allowed him to visit those states, and build networks within them, as often as any candidate -- more than 30 times combined among the three. The ex-lawmaker's penchant for rhetorical bombshells has helped him remain a favorite bogeyman of Democrats in Pennsylvania. Word of Santorum's announcement brought a response from the party's chairman in the Keystone State, who blasted his candidacy as evidence of the Republican Party's rightward shift. "The viability of Rick Santorum as a Presidential candidate shows how far the Republican Party has lurched to the far right," said Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn, in a statement. "The Republican Party has been co-opted by the Tea Party, and Rick Santorum's presence as a legitimate candidate in the 2012 field shows just how far right the Republican Party has moved."

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