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FACTBOX-U.S. presidential candidate Rick Santorum

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 3 Jan 2012 12:59 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Reuters) - Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is a conservative running in the Republican Iowa caucuses, which kick off the state-by-state presidential nominating race on Tuesday.

Here are some facts about him.

* Santorum's campaign website says he was once called a "Tea Party kind of guy before there was a Tea Party." He says he fought for fiscal reform like balancing the U.S. budget and revising entitlement programs "before it was in fashion." Despite that, Santorum is best known for his opposition to abortion, criticism of homosexuality and the teaching of evolution in schools.

* A devout Catholic of Italian ancestry, he often mentions his faith. Santorum and his wife have seven children.

* Santorum has staked his campaign on the Iowa caucuses. In a state where voters value personal contact with candidates, Santorum has visited all 99 Iowa counties and won the endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Family Leader Christian group. Even a third-place finish in Iowa could give Santorum sufficient momentum to carry him to the next contest in New Hampshire and, more importantly, on to South Carolina, which looks more favorably on the most conservative candidates.

* In 2003, Santorum took heat for comments appearing to equate homosexuality with incest, bigamy, adultery and polygamy. In an interview, Santorum said the Supreme Court should uphold state sodomy laws like a Texas law that was before the high court. "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery," Santorum said.

* Santorum, 53, represented the battleground state of Pennsylvania in Congress, serving first as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and then as a U.S. senator. Santorum, a forceful debater, rose to chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the third-ranking Senate Republican. But in the 2006 election, he lost his seat in a bruising battle in which he was hit for his staunch support of then-President George W. Bush.

(For complete coverage of the U.S. presidential election, see (Reporting by Lily Kuo and Deborah Charles; Editing by Eric Beech)

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