Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Ex-senator Santorum enters race

Former senator Rick Santorum has confirmed he is running for president, joining a crowded field of Republicans looking to challenge President Barack Obama in next year's election.

Mr Santorum, the former number three Republican in the US Senate and a favourite among his party's anti-abortion rights bloc, is a long shot for his party's nomination.

He announced his candidacy at an event in his home state of Pennsylvania after earlier confirming his candidacy in a national TV appearance.

Speaking on the steps of a county courthouse in western Pennsylvania, Mr Santorum accused Mr Obama of working to undermine Americans' freedoms, pushing through a national health care plan that reduces individual choices and spending billions of dollars that add to future generations' debts.

"I'm ready to lead. I'm ready to do what has to be done for the next generation, with the courage to fight for freedom, with the courage to fight for America," Santorum said. "That's why I'm announcing that I'm running for president of the United States of America."

Mr Santorum nodded to the social conservatives who have huge sway in early nominating states of Iowa and South Carolina. He also pitched himself to tea party-style activists who have yet to gel around a single candidate.

Other Republican contenders include former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former house speaker Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, US representative Ron Paul, and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who also served as US ambassador to China. Those considering a bid include Texas governor Rick Perry and congresswoman Michele Bachmann. The party's 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, hasn't said whether she would run.

Mr Santorum, 53, a blunt-talking conservative, lacks the name recognition and fundraising organisation of his better-known rivals. But the two-term senator's advisers are counting on social conservatives who have huge sway in some early nominating states and have yet to settle on a favourite candidate.

He had been laying the groundwork for a presidential bid when he lost a bruising re-election bid to the Senate in 2006. His opposition to abortion, gay marriage and embryonic stem cell research makes him an appealing candidate for conservatives. But his sometimes abrasive style alienated voters in Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania, and they replaced him with Bob Casey, an anti-abortion Democrat.

Mr Santorum's policy positions align with national conservatives who now are looking at many of the expected candidates with scepticism. Romney's changes of heart on gay rights and abortion do little to help his second presidential effort, Mr Gingrich is twice divorced. Mr Huntsman, who worked for three Republican administrations, nonetheless accepted Mr Obama's offer to be the US ambassador to China.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph