The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

Rick Santorum readies for South Carolina debate

Greenville, S.C.  – Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 presidential hopeful, barely registers on national polls, but he’s gearing up for the first Republican presidential primary debate in South Carolina Thursday night.

Santorum, who has formed a presidential exploratory committee, is still silent on when he will officially announce his candidacy for president. “In the next few weeks,” he said when The Daily Caller caught up with him walking the streets of Greenville, S.C.  “Like I always say, it’s weeks not months.”

He did, however, offer a small glimpse into what his prospective campaign could look like. While some candidates may have a strategy to focus on only certain states, Santorum told TheDC he has an “all of the above” plan.

“I’ve been to all of them equally – about 15 times each,” Santorum told TheDC, referring to early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. “My feeling is I’ve got a message and a record that’s attractive across the board, and we’re going to work across the board.”

“We’re not going to pick and choose where we’re going to go, we’re going to take them as they come,” he added.

And while other candidates have come through South Carolina in recent weeks courting voters and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Santorum said that he has not met with Haley in months.

Thursday night’s debate will take place just days after the successful U.S. Navy Seal raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. Because of that, the debate is expected to focus more on national security rather than the economy.

But Santorum said that’s fine with him. “Obviously, national security issues are very important right now and I’m anxious to engage in that,” he told TheDC. But while he commended President Obama for authorizing the raid that killed bin Laden, Santorum also took the opportunity to criticize the president’s policy agenda.

“The failings of this administration are profound when it comes to actions that have occurred on his [Obama’s] watch,” said Santorum, “where he had to come up with the policy. He’s had the wrong policy every single time and that’s the problem.”

When asked about the lack of participation in the first Republican debate of the 2012 primary season, Santorum rebuked the candidates who decided to sit it out, saying, “I think people should be out here.”

“If you’re really interested in being President of the United States, you need to go out and talk to the folks – and not just in the debate, but you gotta go out and do the town meetings and the diner stops.”