Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is running for president in 2016. Here is the Republican's take on the Islamic State, immigration, education and more, in his own words. (Alice Li/The Washington Post)

This story has been updated.

Rick Santorum is running for president again. Though he never really stopped.

The former Pennsylvania senator confirmed to ABC News Wednesday morning that he will announce a 2016 presidential bid at an event in his hometown later in the day.

Now, if the last several presidential cycles were an accurate predictor of the future, Rick Santorum would be the 2016 Republican nominee.

Yet as the 2012 GOP runner-up announces that he’s officially running again, it is mostly being met with the same collective shrug it got four years ago.

As he stands now -- polling around 2 percent, when included at all -- there’s a chance Santorum won’t even make the cut to be on the first primary debate stage in August.

It’s a starkly different position than onetime 2nd place finishers John McCain and Mitt Romney found themselves in when they ran for the White House another time.

Santorum's official announcement event for his his 2016 candidacy will be held at a manufacturing plant in Cabot, Pa., the town where he grew up north of Pittsburgh. He will again seek to set himself apart from the rest of the field as the candidate looking out for the working class who also has strong credentials on foreign policy and social issues.

Many political prognosticators were stunned in 2012 when Santorum outlasted the rise and fall of the ragtag 2012 field, edging out Romney with a win in the Iowa caucuses. A devout Catholic known for his deeply held cultural conservatism on issues like abortion and gay marriage, Santorum directed his pitch at blue-collar voters.

He went on to win 10 more primaries and caucuses to be the last man standing between Romney and the nomination. He dropped out just before the Pennsylvania primary -- a move many believed was to spare him the embarrassment of losing his home state again.

His longtime campaign strategist, John Brabender, said in a recent interview that Santorum has been counted out so many times in his career that he "wears it as a badge of honor rather than something to get angry about."

Although he portrays himself as being anti-establishment, Santorum was third-ranking in GOP leadership by the end of his second term in the Senate. But then in 2006, controversy over earlier statements on homosexuality and a Democratic-wave election led to his losing his seat by 18 points.

After a few years mostly under the radar, he reemerged in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, with an eye on the ultimate comeback: the White House. Reserved as a punchline and rarely included in early public polls, Santorum mounted a scrappy, grassroots campaign around Iowa in a loaned pickup, fondly called "the Chuck Truck."

Buoyed by the financial assistance of wealthy donor Foster Friess -- who is backing him again -- Santorum went from being the longest long shot with a skeleton staff to the conservatives' last hope against Romney. Almost overnight he was selling his signature sweater vests emblazoned with his name to fans, and hanging with the Duggar family in their motor home. Two sisters from Oklahoma wrote a catchy country song about him they called "Game On," with lyrics such as: "Oh, there is Hope for our Nation again/Maybe the First time Since we Had Ronald Reagan."

But this time around, the star power in the Republican field is significantly more formidable. Chuck Laudner, who shuttled Santorum around Iowa in his Dodge Ram pickup, has shifted his allegiance to Donald Trump, according to the Des Moines Register. Others in the mix share Santorum's specialty brand of social conservative populism, including 2008 Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee and firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

But Brabender insists there is unseen momentum for Santorum, and that his "phone rings off the hook" from consultants wanting to work with the soon-to-be-candidate. Like last time, he said, once voters take the newest models out for a test drive, they'll come back for something "reliable, credible."

"The new candidates look great until people know more about them," Brabender said. "The question comes, 'Do you have a solid base that are strong supporters that are going to be there?' ... He has to earn some of that back. I don’t think any of that is unusual, or daunting to us. We know what is under the surface."