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Rick Santorum forms exploratory committee for presidential run

May 03, 2011|By Colby Itkowitz and Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall )

Reporting from Washington — Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum officially registered his presidential exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission, allowing him to participate in Thursday's South Carolina debate and putting him even closer to a formal announcement to run for president.

Santorum had established a "testing the waters" account last month, but did not file with the FEC. Fox News, the host of the debate, set criteria that to be included a candidate would need to have officially registered an exploratory committee or have announced a formal campaign for president.

So far, the list of those who have met that and other debate criteria is small. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty committed last week to participate. Others expected to attend are Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, restaurant executive Herman Cain and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Santorum made the announcement on Sean Hannity's radio show Tuesday afternoon, saying his decision does not mean he's certainly running, but that he feels "like I'm being called to do this."

"I'm getting a lot of feedback from folks that they want to see the candidates more, they want to kick the tires a little bit," Santorum told Hannity, adding that he's visited New Hampshire 15 times and Iowa 14 times. "I won't say I'm lonely, but there aren't a lot of people spending a lot of time out there on the hustings at this point."

Santorum said the only good decisions President Obama has made so far have been those to continue policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Ordering the mission that killed Osama bin Laden was only a "tactical" move, and was only possible because of policies Bush implemented in the war on terrorism, including interrogation techniques.

"The strategy was set long ago," he said. "This was just how to do it, not whether to do it."

colby.itkowitz@mcall.com

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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