In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Santorum Starts Presidential Bid By Calling Himself Tougher Than Paul Ryan (VIDEO)

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All the Republican presidential candidates mention Ryan these days. But they use the words "courageous" or "inspiring" while doing it (and often while steering clear of formally endorsing his Medicare plan). Santorum is one of the few to use Ryan as an example of someone who's not as courageous as he is.

Watch:

Santorum's official announcement will come later this morning. On ABC this morning, he said he's "in it to win" and -- as he has since first suggesting the possibility that he would run -- Santorum said he'll do it by sticking out as the most pure conservative in the contest. Over the weekend at the Faith And Freedom Conference in DC, Santorum told a crowd of social conservatives that he's been in their trenches for longer the others running.

"I just don't take the pledge. I take the bullets," he said, referring to the evangelical-friendly policy stances that have been a highlight of his political life.

Santorum appears to be trying to make the same contrast when it comes to economics. He's already said that Ryan's plan is too weak because it doesn't include "the current generation of seniors" and this morning suggested that it needs to include reforms of Social Security as well.

Running as the hardliner may get Santorum some headlines, but so far it hasn't done much for his campaign. Polls so far have shown him barely registering among Republican primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, though he has won a couple of straw polls in the states and has devoted more time to early state primary visits than most other candidates.