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Santorum launches Republican bid for White House

Jun 7, 2011

Former Senator
Rick Santorum launched a long-shot
Republican bid for president on Monday,
pledging an unflinching commitment to
conservative policies, including a Medicare
reform plan that has proved unpopular with
voters.
"We're going to be in this race and we're in
it to win," Santorum told ABC's "Good
Morning America" in an interview from his
home state of Pennsylvania.
"What people are looking for is someone
who has stood by their principles in good
times and in bad," he said before formally
launching his 2012 White House bid.
Santorum, 53, known for staunchly
conservative positions on welfare reform,
abortion rights and homosexuality, criticized
President Barack Obama for shattering the
faith of voters who elected him in 2008.
"The president took that faith the American
public gave him and wrecked our economy
and centralized power in Washington, D.C.,
and robbed people of their freedom," he
said as he declared his candidacy in
Somerset, Pennsylvania.
Santorum has been campaigning in states
with early contests on the road to the 2012
Republican presidential nomination,
including New Hampshire and South
Carolina, where he won informal Republican
straw polls.
But he is at the bottom of the Republican
pack in the national race for the party's
nomination to challenge Obama, a Democrat
seeking re-election next year. Santorum
garnered only 2 percent support in a Gallup
poll of Republicans last month.
Santorum hopes to build momentum for his
campaign by winning the support of social
and religious conservatives who play an
influential role in the early voting states of
Iowa and South Carolina.
Other announced Republican contenders
include former House of Representatives
Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Representative
Ron Paul and former Governors Mitt Romney
of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of
Minnesota.
Santorum could have a tough time
expanding his appeal beyond the most
conservative wing of the party, however. He
lost his bid for a third Senate term in
Pennsylvania by a wide 59 percent to 41
percent margin in 2006, after sticking to his
support for Social Security reforms that had
soured on voters.
On Monday, he backed a Republican plan to
transform the Medicare healthcare program
for the elderly into a system that would help
beneficiaries pay for private health
insurance.
"Seniors can, in fact, do this," Santorum said.
"It does save money and it's going to be a
good thing for them and it's going to be a
great thing for our country."
The plan, proposed by House Budget
Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, has brought
a backlash from voters and prompted some
Republicans to back away from it.
But Santorum said his support for Medicare
reform remained firm and presented his
unwavering positions of the past as a
political asset.
"If you look back at what I did and when I
did it, people can say: You know what? He
may have lost but he didn't flinch. He stood
by what he believed in and he continued the
fight through the end," he said.