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Rick Santorum

Former U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania

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Why He Matters

This former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania is set to test whether there are second acts in American political life.

During his 16 years in Washington, Santorum developed a reputation as a staunch social conservative. He emphasized the importance of fostering strong families and was a consistent critic of abortion rights and homosexuality. His uncompromising stances earned him his share of admirers, but also made him a polarizing figure. In 2006, he lost his seat to Bob Casey (D) in an 18-point landslide, as part of the wave that swept Democrats into control of both chambers of Congress.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: U.S. Senator (1995-2007); U.S. Representative (1991-1995); Attorney, Kirkpatrick and Lockhart (1986-1990); Administrative Assistant, Pennsylvania state senator Doyle Corman (1981-1986)
  • Birthday: May 10, 1958
  • Hometown: Penn Hills, Pa.
  • Alma Mater: Penn State, B.A., 1980; University of Pittsburgh, M.B.A., 1981; Dickinson Law School, J.D., 1986
  • Spouse: Karen
  • Religion: Catholic
 

Path To Power

Santorum was born May 10, 1958 in Winchester, Va. as the son of a clinical psychologist for the Veterans' Administration. His father was an Italian immigrant and he grew up Catholic. When Santorum was seven-years-old, his family moved to Butler, Pennsylvania.

Santorum went on to college at Penn State, where as an undergraduate he dipped into politics for the first time by volunteering for the Senate campaign of John Heinz. After graduating in 1980, he pursued an MBA at the University of Pittsburgh and afterward moved to Harrisburg, where he worked as a staffer for state Sen.Doyle Corman. He earned a law degree from Dickinson School of Law in 1986.

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The Issues

As a senator, Santorum had a generally conservative voting record, having earned a 88.1 lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.

He is mostly known for his views on social issues, but also sided with fellow Republicans on tax cuts and national-security matters. However, he is not a free market purist, as he supported policies such as steel tariffs and hiking the minimum wage. He also differentiates himself from more libertarian-leaning Republicans. "They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues," he said in a 2005 NPR interview. "You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can't go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we've had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture."

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The Network

Should Santorum seek the presidency in 2012, he would do so with strong relationships with leading anti-abortion rights activists and social conservative groups. He also has connections within the legal community and will be owed favors from Republican candidates he has supported through his PACs.

In 2010, he endorsed winning Senate candidates Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Roy Blunt, Rob Portman (Ohio),Marco Rubio (Fla.) and even Pat Toomey (Pa.), despite the fact that he endorsed Toomey's former rival, Arlen Specter, in the 2004 Senate race. Toomey lost the GOP primary to then-GOP rival Specter in that contest, but has since switched his party affiliation to become a Democrat.

 

Additional Resources

  1. Townhall.com columnists, Rick Santorum, bio.
  2. Hillyer, Quin, "Political Sanctum Santorum?," the American Spectator, Jul. 15, 2010.
  3. The Associated Press, "Excerpt from Santorum interview," USA Today, Apr. 23, 2010.
  4. America Votes 2006, "U.S. Senate/Pennsylvania," CNN.com.
  5. Townhall.com columnists, Rick Santorum, bio.
  6. Santorum, Rick, "It Takes a Family" chat transcript, the Washington Post, Jul. 25, 2010.
  7. Santorum, Rick, "It's Time to Kill the Death Tax," Townhall,com, Jun. 8, 2006.
  8. Itkowitz, Colby, "Santorum Stumps in New Hampshire," Morning Call, Nov. 29, 2010
  9. The American Conservative Union, Ratings of Congress, 2006 Senate Ratings.
  10. Graham, David, "Santorum Steps Out," Newsweek, Oct. 7, 2010.
  11. Brown, David, "Santorum keys on 'Islamic fascism,'" Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Oct. 10, 2006.
  12. Barone, Michael and Cohen, Richard, The Almanac of American Politics 2006, National Journal Group (2005).
  13. Transcript of NBC's "Meet the Press" debate between Rick Santorum and Bob Casey, Sept. 3, 2006.
  14. Inskeep, Steve, "Rick Santorum, 'It Takes a Family," NPR, Aug. 4, 2005.
  15. Petroski, William, "In Iowa visit, Santorum defends his record against abortion," Des Moines Register, Mar. 9, 2010.
  16. "Get(ting) milk(ed)," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Dec. 4, 2005.
  17. Hanby, Peter, "Santorum steered money to Iowa and South Carolina," CNN.com, Dec. 6, 2010.
  18. Barone, Michael and Cohen, Richard, The Almanac of American Politics 2006, National Journal Group (2005).
  19. Moore, Stephen, "Santorum's Shame," National Review Online, Apr. 15, 2004
  20. Exploratory Committee announcement on Fox News' Greta Van Susteren show, April 13, 2011
  21. Santorum, Rick, "ItTakes a Family" chat transcript, the Washington Post, Jul. 25, 2010.