Santorum Takes Small Step Toward 2012 Candidacy

By Laura Bonawits, Contributing Writer

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum took another step toward the 2012 presidential election Wednesday night, announcing the creation of a “testing the waters” campaign fundraising account. It will allow him to solicit contributions, but it is not as formal as an exploratory committee.

He announced the launch of the Rick Santorum Exploratory Committee, a “testing-the-waters” account, during a Fox News appearance On the Record with host Greta Van Susteren. The announcement comes two days after Gov. Mitt Romney announced the formation of an official exploratory committee.

“…The reason I have done this is simple: In 2008 Americans wanted a president who they could believe in, but after two years they realized that what they needed is a president who believes in them,” Santorum said in an e-mail to his supporters.

This account will be filed with the IRS, and is still subject to FEC regulations and limits. The difference between Santorum’s “testing-the-waters” committee as opposed to a bona fide exploratory committee is that he won’t have to file with the Federal Election Comission if he decides not to run. He’s also forbidden from expressly stating that he is running for president.

The announcement fell short of some expectations, and pales in comparison somewhat to Santorum’s investment to date of time, resources and staff in the early primary states.

The established account’s purpose is to raise funds to further determine whether he will make a formal run for office. “This is a step to see what support he can garner out there,” a Santorum adviser explained to POLITICO. “The transition to jump over to an actual committee is quite big step logistically and financially.”

Santorum has shown some momentum in the past few weeks.

He won a straw poll at South Carolina’s Greenville County Republican convention on April 9, receiving 31 percent of the vote. He has also been busy with a stacked travel agenda, making frequent visits to key states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“It’s time for America to be America again — an America that rewards innovation and hard work, that stands by our allies instead of our enemies, that protects even the most vulnerable of our society, and an America that says every life is to be cherished,” Santorum said. “That’s what I believe in and that’s why I’m taking this next step in a possible run for president.

However, some of Santorum’s obstacles were on display during last night’s interview. First, despite widespread hype, his announcement was bumped to the 16 minute mark of the program. And Susteren certainly did not cut her Fox News colleague any slack during the interview. She brought up Santorum’s 18 point loss to Bob Casey in 2006, and spent a significant portion of the interview talking about Santorum’s comments blaming “abortion culture” for problems with Social Security.

April 14th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Presidential | No Comments