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Santorum busy making plans for 2012 bid

Posted By Alex Pappas On 11:15 AM 08/11/2010 In Blog - Alex Pappas | 11 Comments

In an interview with The Daily Caller, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said he’s actively cultivating donors, staff and supporters so he’ll be in a position to run for president in 2012 as a Republican if he decides to do so by early next year.

“I’m going through the process of what someone who is seriously considering running would do,” Santorum said by phone, “in order for when the time comes to decide, I’m in a position that I have a choice.”

Santorum—who was elected to the Senate in 1994 but left in 2006 after losing his seat—said he plans to make a decision on a presidential bid by either the end of this year, or the beginning of 2011.

Three factors, Santorum said, will determine his decision:

The first is whether he finds his message resonating in today’s political environment. He is traveling around the country — in early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — giving speeches and participating in town meetings. He said he’s “getting reaction from people on what they think of the message, what they think of the messenger, what they think of my background and my accomplishments and how that fits into what people are looking for in 2012.”

A second consideration is whether he can raise the money necessary for a serious effort. “You can’t run a campaign unless you have resources,” he said. “I’m talking to folks about what resources might be available if I do this.” He said a recently convened meeting with his former Senate staffers, reported on by a number of news outlets, was for him to relay these plans for 2012, solicit advice and gauge interest.

Lastly, there are personal considerations. He said he’s not a millionaire like other potential candidates and “they don’t pay you a lot of money to run for president.” Santorum still must pay for the education of his seven kids, one of whom has health issues.

And then there’s the blood-thirsty media: “Life on the outside when—no offense—guys like you aren’t taking their microscopes out and looking at every singe aspect of what you said or what you’ve done in your life isn’t all that bad.”

As for his raison d’être to get in this race? There are potential GOP candidates like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, who might excite the social conservative base of the Republican Party, and there’s Mitt Romney, beloved for his business background. But while those candidates would have natural constituencies, Santorum suggested he’d portray himself as “a strong, principled conservative…that can unite our party, that can energize every aspect of our party,” including the fiscal, foreign policy and social conservative wings.

When it comes to those factions, Santorum says candidates dating back to Reagan have “been able to check the boxes,” though many didn’t appear to have “the passion or commitment across the board on all the issues that I think people in this day and age and this election cycle would like to see.”
Asked if he considers himself a Tea Partier, Santorum responded that he compares with the grassroots activists in how he was “on the sidelines politically until the spring and summer of last year,” when President Obama’s stimulus and health-care bills made him feel compelled to speak out. It was then, he said, that he found himself like “the guy from the movie Network who said, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore.’”

Though he said Palin “plays an incredibly important role in energizing people across America,” Santorum said her entrance in the 2012 contest would not prevent him from getting in. “I’m not making any decisions based on what anyone else is doing,” he said. “I’m going to make decisions based on the three factors I talked about.”

As for the best GOP ideas out there to counter the Obama administration, Santorum spoke fondly of those from Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, “someone who has told me he’s not running for president, doesn’t want to run for president, and just wants to focus on the policy side…who has a very valuable role in setting the markers out there.” He also mentioned Governors — and potential GOP primary opponents — Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who Santorum says have seen success working budget issues in their states.

Then Santorum, noting his work on welfare reform and foreign policy, added: “And then you look at hopefully folks like me.”


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