White House Brief: Things to know about Rick Santorum

May 27, 2015, 1:30 AM
FILE – In this April 25, 2015 file photo, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at th...
FILE - In this April 25, 2015 file photo, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at the Iowa Faith & Freedom 15th Annual Spring Kick Off, in Waukee, Iowa. Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who won the 2012 Iowa caucuses by a hair, is widely expected to enter the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who won the 2012 Iowa caucuses by a hair, is widely expected to enter the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday. Here are some key things to know:

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THE BRIEF

A hard-driving social conservative, Santorum was the surprise success story of the 2012 presidential election, coming from the back of the pack to eke out a win in the leadoff Iowa caucuses. That didn’t give his campaign much of a boost because the Iowa Republican Party initially and wrongly declared Mitt Romney the winner. Still, Santorum went on to win 11 states, delaying Romney’s claim on the nomination for a few months. Despite that success, Santorum, 57, remains an underdog in a 2016 field packed with other social conservatives who want the support of Iowa’s evangelical caucus-goers. He’s hoping to replicate his success with another aggressive grassroots push, but also — after problems with disorganization in 2012 — a more professional campaign and fundraising operation.

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RESUME REVIEW

Santorum spent four years in the House and 12 in the Senate, where he became the third-ranking member in the chamber. He worked on welfare restructuring, achieved a federal ban on a type of late-term abortion procedure and supported the war in Iraq, along with aggressive moves against terrorists abroad. Santorum now says the war was a mistake. Hs conservative views on issues like gay marriage and abortion came under scrutiny when he ran for his fourth term in 2006, as did the fact that he spent little time in his Pennsylvania home. Democrat Bob Casey dealt him a crushing defeat. Since leaving office, Santorum has been on the lecture circuit, penned several books and serves as CEO of a Christian movie studio.

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PERSONAL STORY

Santorum was born in Virginia and grew up in blue-collar Butler, Pa, north of Pittsburgh, in a devout Catholic family. His Italian immigrant father was a psychologist and his mother a nurse. He attended Penn State University, where he met his wife, Karen. The couple married in 1990 and have seven children. Another child, Gabriel Michael, died in 1996, two hours after an emergency delivery. Their youngest child, Isabella, was born in 2008 with trisomy 18, a genetic disorder. Less than 10 percent of those diagnosed with the condition live to their first birthday.

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CALLING CARD MOMENT

Santorum’s come-from-behind win in the 2012 Iowa caucuses stunned the political establishment. But that win came several days late. On the night of the vote, Iowa Republican officials declared Romney the winner by 8 ballots. They reversed themselves several days later, saying Santorum had actually won by 34. Santorum says most people probably still don’t know he won Iowa.

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EARLY STATE ACTION

Santorum credits his 2012 Iowa success to his aggressive campaigning in the state’s small towns. His 2016 bid is shaping up in similar fashion with plenty of time in Iowa. He has several paid staff in the state and state Rep. Walt Rogers, a social conservative who backed Santorum in 2012, is leading his Iowa efforts. The strategy remains Iowa-heavy. He’s spent little time in New Hampshire, though he plans to have staff there, and he has a state director in South Carolina.

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READING LIST

Santorum has been a prolific author on topics personal and political. In 2005 he published “It Takes a Family,” which lauds the traditional family structure and pokes at the title of the Hillary Rodham Clinton book, “It Takes a Village.” He followed with “American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom,” about the American Revolution and “Blue Collar Conservatives,” which argues that Republicans do more to appeal to blue collar workers. Santorum and his wife also wrote a book together about their daughter: “Bella’s Gift” came out this year.

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ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: http://www.ricksantorum.com/

Political action committee (He founded, but is no longer officially involved): http://www.patriotvoices.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ricksantorum

Political Action Committee Twitter: https://twitter.com/Patriot_Voices

Instagram: https://instagram.com/ricksantorum/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RickSantorum

PAC Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PatriotVoices

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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White House Brief: Things to know about Rick Santorum