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The Re-Emergence Of Rick Santorum -- From Ex-Senator To Potential Presidential Candidate

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Santorum was an early participant in the right-wing rhetoric against Obama's presidency, before the Tea Party movement had caught on. In February 2009, Santorum told Think Progress at CPAC that he agreed with Rush Limbaugh in wanting Obama to fail. In early April 2009, he wrote: "Watching President Obama apologize last week for America's arrogance -- before a French audience that owes its freedom to the sacrifices of Americans -- helped convince me that he has a deep-seated antipathy toward American values and traditions."

In March 2009, Santorum strongly implied that he would not support the renomination of then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (PA), who had just recently helped pass the stimulus bill and was facing a likely primary challenge. "In 2004, President Bush and a Senate colleague from Western Pennsylvania made the difference for Specter. Those dogs don't hunt anymore," Santorum wrote, adding that the primary against Specter "will be fun to watch. And watch I will." (As we all know, Specter switched to the Democrats about a month later).

In August 2009, as he was about to head to Iowa he said: "What this country needs is someone with strong conviction who can articulate those convictions and who can provide a vision for America that is an alternative to the big government, freedom-depriving vision of Barack Obama. I don't know who that is."

In September 2009, Santorum said: "A lot of people are going to take a look and see what they can do to try to confront this presidency, which many of us -- as you're seeing from the tea parties and the like -- which many of us believe is injurious to America."

In December 2009, he took a slight shot at a potential competitor, Sarah Palin, making it clear that a presidential campaign wouldn't be easy for her: "I think, you know, she's done a lot to draw attention to herself that's positive. She's done some things that, you know, certainly are going to cause her to have to do some explaining if she runs for president."

If Santorum does indeed end up running for president, he could face any number of social-conservative competitors, such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. But when it comes to infuriating liberals, over the years few politicians have been quite as good at it as himself. And that by itself could be worth something.