Former Sen. Santorum 'absolutely taking a look' at possible 2012 presidential bid

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) gave his clearest words to date that he is seriously mulling a 2012 presidential bid.


"Absolutely — absolutely taking a look," he told ABC's "Top Line" webcast Monday afternoon.

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"But look — I'm doing it in the context that right now, there's very important matters, and I want to weigh into those matters as to what the Republican Party stands for in 2010," Santorum added.

The former Pennsylvania senator has previously exhibited an interest in running in 2012. However, he has, to this point, hedged his language quite a bit, allowing his travel plans to typical presidential battlegrounds like Iowa and South Carolina to do most of the talking for him.

But on Monday, Santorum used his interview to stress his political bona fides — an emphasis on family values and free-market economics.

"I think I've been very clear that, you know, we need to stand foursquare on the traditional values," he said. "When I say traditional values people think, ‘Oh, that means, you know, social conservatism and the family.’ It also means the free enterprise system and that government shouldn't be large and controlling things — I mean, those are all core Republican principles."

And the senator — like the GOP's other prospective 2012 contenders — tossed a few veiled barbs toward one of his likely conservative opponents: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"I think, you know, she's done a lot to draw attention to herself that's positive," Santorum said, noting she was having an "impact" but declining to say whether she was qualified to win the White House.

"She's done some things that, you know, certainly are going to cause her to have to do some explaining if she runs for president," he added.