Rick Santorum launching second White House run

Rick Santorum Expected to Announce His Bid for President

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rick Santorum, an aggressive advocate for conservative family values, will launch a second bid for president on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

The former Pennsylvania senator exceeded the political world's expectations by scoring a second-place finish in the race for the Republican presidential nomination four years ago. Yet as he competes again, he may struggle even to qualify for the debate stage in 2016.

The 57-year-old Republican will deliver his announcement at a factory near his western Pennsylvania hometown, according to spokesman Matt Beynon.

Santorum will be surrounded by factory workers at the event, a carefully scripted setting designed to showcase his focus on the working class. A major player in 2012, he opens this political season almost as a heavy underdog in a race expected to feature more than a dozen high-profile Republicans - most of them newcomers to presidential politics.

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Rick Santorum launching second White House run
Rick Santorum arrives for a meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower December 12, 2016 in New York. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, applauds while standing next to Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, during a Trump campaign event campaign event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Trump, according to a flurry of early-state and national polls, is the overwhelming favorite of self-identified moderate and liberal Republican voters. Among more conservative voters, he often trails his chief rival for the nomination, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DES MOINES, IA - MAY 16: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MAY 14: Former U.S. Senator and GOP Presidental hopeful Rick Santorum speaks at the RNC Luncheon during the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting at The Phoenician May 14, 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)
Former United States Senator Rick Santorum walks through the lobby at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 10: Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits on April 10, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. The annual NRA meeting and exhibit runs through Sunday. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 03: Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. More than 70,000 peope are expected to attend the NRA's 3-day annual meeting that features nearly 550 exhibitors, gun trade show and a political rally. The Show runs from May 3-5. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MT PLEASANT, SC - JANUARY 19: Republican presidential hopeful and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) holds an outdoor press conference with by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on January 19, 2012 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. According to certified results released on January 19, by the Iowa Republican Party, Santorum won the January 3, Iowa Republican presidential caucuses by 34 votes. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - JANUARY 06: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (C) arrives for a 'Faith, Family and Freedom' campaign town hall meeting in the parking lot of the Belmont Hall restaurant January 6, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Santorum moved the meeting into the parking lot after the local fire marshal said there were too many people inside the restaurant and it was unsafe. After coming in second place by only eight votes behind fellow candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Iowa Caucuses, Santorum is riding that momentum into next week's New Hampshire GOP primary. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: Former GOP presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (L) voices his opposition to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities during a news conference with his wife Karen Santorum (3rd L) and his daughters, Isabella and Sarah, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill November 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. In 2008 the Santorum's eighth child, Isabella, was born and diagnosed with Edwards syndrome (Trisomy 18), a serious genetic disorder, with only a 10% chance of survival past one year old. Following the second hospitalization of Isabella in a few months, Santorum officially suspended his campaign for the presidency in June of 2012. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: Karen Santorum (L), wife of former GOP presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), cradles her daughter, Isabella, while participating in a news conference opposing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill November 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. In 2008 the Santorum's eighth child, Isabella, was born and diagnosed with Edwards syndrome (Trisomy 18), a serious genetic disorder, with only a 10% chance of survival past one year old. Following the second hospitalization of Isabella in a few months, Santorum officially suspended his campaign for the presidency in June of 2012. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: Former GOP presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (L) adjusts his daughter Isabella's hat during a news conference where he voiced his opposition to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with his wife Karen Santorum at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill November 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. In 2008 the Santorum's eighth child, Isabella, was born and diagnosed with Edwards syndrome (Trisomy 18), a serious genetic disorder, with only a 10% chance of survival past one year old. Following the second hospitalization of Isabella in a few months, Santorum officially suspended his campaign for the presidency in June of 2012. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LA CROSSE, WI - MARCH 28: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and his daughter Elizabeth watch a fellow bowlers while bowling at South Lanes Bowling and Pizza during a campaign stop on March 28, 2012 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Wisconsin residents will go to the polls on April 3 to vote for their choice for the Republican presidential nominee. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 15: Presidenial candidate and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (L) and daughter Sara Marie, 14, sit at Toro Salado restaurant March 15, 2012 in in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Santorum is on the second day of two-day campaign trip to where there are 23 GOP delegates up for grabs for the republican presidential nomination. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 15: (L to R) Peter, 12, Daniel, 16, and Sara Marie, 14, wait for their father, presidenial candidate and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), to finish talking to reporters at theToro Salado restaurant March 15, 2012 in in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Santorum is on the second day of two-day campaign trip to where there are 23 GOP delegates up for grabs for the republican presidential nomination. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - FEBRUARY 28: Rick Santorum addresses supporters as his wife Karen (L) and daughter Elizabeth Santorum (R) look on at a primary night gathering on February 28, 2012 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ArizonVoters in Michigan and Arizona went to the polls today to pick their choice for the Republican presidential nominee. Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won both contests. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum and his family wait for the start of a live television interview after speaking at a South Carolina Faith & Freedom Coalition Event in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, January 16, 2012. South Carolina will hold its Republican primary on January 21, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 12: A family listens to Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum during a town hall event on January 12, 2012 in Charleston, South Carolina. Voters in South Carolina will head to the polls on January 21 to vote in the primary election for the Republican presidential candidate. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
AMHERST, NH - JANUARY 07: Four-year-old Audrey Stecchi of Merrimack, New Hampshire, holds a sign as she waits for the arrival of Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, with her family outside Homestead Grocery & Deli January 7, 2012 in Amherst, New Hampshire. The meet-and-greet event was moved outside after too many people had showed up and exceeded the limit of the fire regulations. Santorum continued to campaign in New Hampshire for the upcoming primary election. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
HOLLIS, NH - JANUARY 07: A supporter of Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum wears a republican party sweatshirt during a Faith, Family and Freedom town hall meeting at the Lawrence Barn on January 7, 2012 in Hollis, New Hampshire. With less than one week before the New Hampshire primary, Rick Santorum continues to campaign in New Hampshire. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NASHUA, NH - JANUARY 09: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a 'Faith, Family and Freedom' town hall at the Rivier College football field January 9, 2012 in Nashua, New Hampshire. Republican candidates have one final day of campaigning before New Hampshire holds its first in the nation primary tomorrow. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
KEENE, NH - JANUARY 06: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a town hall meeting on 'Faith, Family and Freedom' January 6, 2012 in Keene, New Hampshire. Santorum continued to campaign in New Hampshire for Tuesday's primary election. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
KEENE, NH - JANUARY 06: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum pauses as he speaks during a town hall meeting on 'Faith, Family and Freedom' January 6, 2012 in Keene, New Hampshire. Santorum continued to campaign in New Hampshire for the upcoming primary election. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
KEENE, NH - JANUARY 06: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a town hall meeting on 'Faith, Family and Freedom' January 6, 2012 in Keene, New Hampshire. Santorum continued to campaign in New Hampshire for the upcoming primary election. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
NORTHFIELD, NH - JANUARY 05: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Sepia aesthetic attained thru through Photoshop processing) Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen Rick Santorum arrives at a 'Faith, Family and Freedom' Town Hall at Merrimack Valley Railroad on January 5, 2012 in Northfield, New Hampshire. Fresh off of a second place finish at the Iowa cuacus, Rick Santorum is trying to carry his momentum as he campaigns a week ahead of the New Hampshire primary. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/Getty Images)
NORTHFIELD, NH - JANUARY 05: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Sepia aesthetic attained thru through Photoshop processing) Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen Rick Santorum speaks during a 'Faith, Family and Freedom' Town Hall at Merrimack Valley Railroad on January 5, 2012 in Northfield, New Hampshire. Fresh off of a second place finish at the Iowa cuacus, Rick Santorum is trying to carry his momentum as he campaigns a week ahead of the New Hampshire primary. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 31: Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks during the final day of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 31, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Leaders of the Republican Party spoke at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference which hosted 1,500 delegates from across the country. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 31: Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks during the final day of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 31, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Leaders of the Republican Party spoke at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference which hosted 1,500 delegates from across the country. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 15: Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at National Harbor, Md., on Friday, March 15, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
MT PLEASANT, SC - JANUARY 19: Republican presidential hopeful and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (C) arrives for a press conference on January 19, 2012 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. According to certified results released on January 19, by the Iowa Republican Party, Santorum won the January 3, Iowa Republican presidential caucuses by 34 votes. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NORTHFIELD, NH - JANUARY 05: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen Rick Santorum meets voters during a 'Faith, Family and Freedom' Town Hall at Merrimack Valley Railroad on January 5, 2012 in Northfield, New Hampshire. Fresh off of a second place finish at the Iowa cuacus, Rick Santorum is trying to carry his momentum as he campaigns a week ahead of the New Hampshire primary. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - JANUARY 06: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum arrives for a 'Faith, Family and Freedom' campaign town hall meeting in the parking lot of the Belmont Hall restaurant January 6, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Santorum moved the meeting into the parking lot after the local fire marshal said there were too many people inside the restaurant and it was unsafe. After coming in second place by only eight votes behind fellow candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Iowa Caucuses, Santorum is riding that momentum into next week's New Hampshire GOP primary. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BEDFORD, NH - JANUARY 06: Campaign signs for Republican presidential candidates former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney line a road January 6, 2012 in Bedford, New Hampshire. After coming in second place by only eight votes behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the Iowa Caucuses, Santorum trying tio riding that momentum into next week's New Hampshire GOP primary. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - JANUARY 06: University of New Hampshire student Evan West holds up a sign while demonstrating against Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum outside the Belmont Hall restaurant January 6, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. West, who said he was not gay, said, 'The issue is serious, the sign is not.' After coming in second place by only eight votes behind fellow candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Iowa Caucuses, Santorum is riding that momentum into next week's New Hampshire GOP primary. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NORTHFIELD, NH - JANUARY 05: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen Rick Santorum speaks during a 'Faith, Family and Freedom' Town Hall at Merrimack Valley Railroad on January 5, 2012 in Northfield, New Hampshire. Fresh off of a second place finish at the Iowa cuacus, Rick Santorum is trying to carry his momentum as he campaigns a week ahead of the New Hampshire primary. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/Getty Images)
AMES, IA - AUGUST 13: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) greets voters outside the Hilton Coliseum, where Iowans will vote in the Iowa Straw Poll at Iowa State University August 13, 2011 in Ames, Iowa. Nine GOP presidential candidates are competing for votes in the straw poll, an important step for gaining momentum in a crowded field of hopefuls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WAUKEE, IA - MARCH 07: Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Event, Monday March 7, 2011 in Waukee, Iowa. Five Republicans considering a run for president in 2012 presented themselves to hundreds of activists at the event. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 07: SENATE GOP LEADERS--Senate GOP Conference Chairman Rick Santorum, R-Pa., Senate Energy Chairman Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, talk to the media in the Ohio Clock Corridor after the GOP policy luncheon. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 01: CORPORATE TAXATION REVISION--Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking Democrat Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., huddle before the Senate Finance Committee markup of legislation that would overhaul the corporate tax code to meet World Trade Organization (WTO) objections to some provisions in current tax law that the WTO views as an illegal subsidy. According to a committee spokesperson, they were discussing how to deal with the corporate-owned life insurance issue. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 08: ECONOMIC GROWTH PLAN--Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., consult before the markup of draft legislation that would implement the administration's proposed economic growth plan. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 23: TRADE BILL--Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., obscured, and Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, during a news conference celebrating the imminent passage of the trade bill in the Senate. On the table are products representing products that they say will be helped by the bill. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 04: GOP UNITY ON BBA -- Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., walk down Senate steps with other Repuiblicans in a show of unity on the Balanced Budget Amendment. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 15: CAMPAIGN FINANCE--Sens. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Rick Santorum, R-Pa., during a news conference on their campaign finance bill. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
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Santorum says his experience could pay dividends the second time around. Most of the GOP's recent presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and President Ronald Reagan among them, needed more than one campaign to win the nomination.

"This is a long process," Santorum told reporters recently. "One of the things that I feel very comfortable with -- I've been through this process before." He said it's a "completely wide open race."

The prospective Republican field already includes four sitting senators, four governors, four former governors, two business leaders and a retired neurosurgeon.

Santorum won 11 states in the last presidential primary contest, yet his early longshot status may keep him out of presidential debates altogether.

Only those who place in the top 10 of national polls will be allowed to participate in the first Republican presidential debate in August, according to guidelines released by network host Fox News. Santorum and fellow 2012 candidate, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, are among those on the bubble.

Much of Santorum's past success was tied to his performance in Iowa, where he scored a narrow victory over Romney in the nation's first presidential nominating contest. Facing little competition for the state's influential evangelical vote, Santorum impressed voters by touring Iowa's 99 counties in a pickup truck.

Iowa will continue to be a focus in 2016, according to Beynon, who said Santorum's rollout tour would begin in Iowa on Thursday and Friday and move to South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday.

His road to relevancy this time won't be easy, however.

"It's going to be much more competitive," said Foster Friess, a prominent Santorum donor who will attend Wednesday's announcement.

Santorum faces considerable competition for his party's social conservatives. The list of candidates already courting religious voters includes former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist pastor who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. And like Santorum, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a Catholic.

Questions remain about Santorum's ability to raise money as well.

Expressing confidence, Beynon said Santorum would benefit from a donor network that has only grown in the years since his first run.

"He would anticipate having more money," Beynon said. "That was certainly a factor in his decision."

And Friess, who previously gave more than $2 million to a pro-Santorum super PAC in 2012, said he would continue to support Santorum's White House ambitions, although he plans to avoid donating large amounts directly to the campaign or a supportive super PAC, both of which would disclose their donors.

"Any giving I'm doing is going to be lower-profile and less noticed," Friess told The Associated Press.

On the ground in early-voting states like Iowa and South Carolina, Santorum starts off as well-known among voters and activists. But a new crop of Republican competitors like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been aggressively touring the states in recent weeks as well. And some voters prefer a fresh face in an election season expected to feature Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Democratic side.

"The electorate is so unpredictable, I wouldn't make a betting guess for him or against him," Iowa National Republican committeeman Steve Scheffler said of Santorum. "But he's got a lot of work to do - like the others."

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