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Santorum announces formation of new conservative advocacy group

His announcement comes as the former presidential hopeful enters the next chapter of his political career.

"One of the things we found as we traveled around the country is that people came up to me and said I was out there speaking about things that gave voice to their concerns … that a lot of people had some basic anxiety of where America was going," Santorum told Fox News on Friday. "We wanted to put an organization together that reflected those voices across America, and we're calling it Patriot Voices."

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Santorum said the group would work to push candidates to embrace conservative principles.

"We're going to be holding candidates responsible, and supporting them, and of course supporting Mitt Romney and make sure he becomes the next president and we get rid of the scourge that has been the bane of the economy and our country, which is Barack Obama and his administration," Santorum said.

Patriot Voices is registered as a social-welfare organization with the IRS, meaning it is prohibited by law from expressly advocating for a federal candidate or donating to his or her campaign. But such groups are permitted to make "issue-oriented" ad campaigns that clearly favor one side, and can accept unlimited and even anonymous donations from individuals and corporations.

"It's about the issues that are going to connect with ordinary Americans who felt out of the political process," the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania said.

Santorum on Friday also looked to downplay speculation of lingering tension with Romney, saying those who suggested his late-night emailed endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor pointed to a lack of enthusiasm were off base.

"We wanted it to be in their mailbox first thing in the morning so it didn't get buried in the middle of the day. We laid it out very clearly as to why I'm supporting Gov. Romney; the meeting went exceptionally well," Santorum said.