Santorum pre-buts Obama

And the former Pennsylvania senator can't say just yet whether he'll run for president in 2012

Published September 15, 2009 6:10PM (EDT)

Since President Obama took control of the Oval Office in January, Republicans have chosen fairly conservative members from their ranks -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La. -- to respond to major speeches by Obama. Looks like that practice is becoming a habit for the GOP.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was tapped by the Republican National Committee to give a "pre-buttal" teleconference to Obama's Tuesday address to the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh. Santorum used the opportunity to slam Obama and Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., as well as to discuss his own political ambitions.

That Santorum was chosen to assume such a public role for Republicans, despite the fact that he does not currently hold elected office and lost badly in a 2006 reelection bid, spurred on speculation that the former senator is laying the ground work for a 2012 presidential campaign, which he addressed on the call.

Santorum almost made it sound as if, in order to save America, he has no choice but to consider a presidential bid. Calling the Obama administration "injurious to America," he said running for the Oval Office is "something that I think I would consider."

"The dynamic has changed," 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."

Santorum also had nothing positive to say of Specter, his former colleague in both the Senate and the GOP, who switched parties earlier this year. "He has done a hard left turn in order to try to get into the good graces of this president," Santorum said. "He's abandoned the middle in order to try to win a Democratic primary."

When asked about running for president, Santorum recently told the conservative site LifeSiteNews, "Six months ago I would not have spent ten seconds on your question, but it's not six months ago. I see that, I hate to be calculating, but I see that 2012 is not just throwing somebody out to be eaten, but it's a real opportunity for success." He also has planned several visits to Iowa, a key stomping ground state for would-be presidential candidates.

The prospect of a Santorum presidential bid has at least one Republican worried, however. Mark McKinnon, a former Bush advisor, thinks Santorum would be the wrong figure to help revive the GOP's fortunes at the ballot box. McKinnon said, "Santorum represents, in my view, much of what is wrong the in the Republican Party. While I disagree with him on some fundamental issues, I am much more concerned with his lack of character." Perhaps McKinnon was unaware that Santorum gives great love advice

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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