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2016 campaign checklist: Santorum

Friday - 5/2/2014, 4:48am  ET

CALVIN WOODWARD
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A look at preparations by former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:

Nondenial denial: "I don't know if I can do this. It's just tough." -- April, AP interview. Timing of decision? "A year at least, probably."

Book: Yes, released late April, "Blue Collar Conservatives." Book says: "Do Republicans really care less about the person at the bottom of the ladder than Democrats do? To be painfully honest, I would have to say in some ways 'yes.'"

Iowa visits: Yes, recent visit with strategists and media. Also, August 2013 speech to conservative Christians in state where he won the 2012 caucuses. Illness kept him away from an event last April by Faith and Freedom Coalition. Screened his new Christmas movie in Iowa in November.

New Hampshire: Yes, March speech to Northeast Republican Leadership Conference marked his return to a state where he performed weakly in 2012 campaign.

South Carolina: Yes, April GOP event at The Citadel military college, where two sons are cadets. Campaigned in April 2013 for former Gov. Mark Sanford's opponent, Curtis Bostic, in a GOP House runoff race. Sanford won.

Foreign travel: Scant foreign travel while in the Senate drew notice in 2012 GOP campaign.

Meet the money: 2012 shoestring campaign was largely fueled by a super political action committee to which Republican donor Foster Friess gave more than $2 million. Santorum bunked at supporters' homes on occasion.

Networking: Addressed NRA convention in April; speeches to groups around the country, including Conservative Political Action Conference. His Christian-themed film company is his calling card with religious conservatives.

Hog the TV: Yes, promoting his new book. Also, plugged his Christmas movie on "The Colbert Report," Fox News, MSNBC and more. Radio, too. Teamed up with Democrat Howard Dean as sparring partners for debates on the air and with audiences. Occasional Sunday news shows.

Do something: Making Christian-themed, family-friendly movies at the moment; has record from Senate days.

Take a stand: Recently, against "dangerous" U.N. Disabilities Treaty. Social conservative activism goes way back. Focus on blue-collar economic opportunity. Speaking up against libertarian streak in GOP, a "strain of conservatism that has no basis in conservatism." Book calls climate change "hyped-up crisis."

Baggage: Overshadowed by newer conservative figures, conceivably out-popes the pope on some social issues. 2012 positions included opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest and support for right of states to ban contraception and gay marriage. Deflection: Being overshadowed means being an underdog, and he can thrive at that. Feisty 2012 campaign became the biggest threat to Romney's march to the nomination at one point. New book contains provocative passages for future rivals to dredge up.

Shadow campaign: Keeps in touch with chief supporters of his winning 2012 Iowa caucus campaign, giving him a leg up on a campaign organization in the state.

Social media: Active on Twitter and Facebook.


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