Santorum says he’s in for 2016
© Greg Nash

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) will announce Wednesday that he intends to seek the Republican nomination for president, a source close to his campaign confirmed.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Santorum told ABC News's George Stephanopoulos that he is officially in the race.

Santorum was widely expected to enter the race on Wednesday. He’ll hit the launch button from his hometown of Cabot, Pa., later in the afternoon.

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The former Pennsylvania senator finished second in the 2012 Republican primaries, emerging as the most formidable threat to eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

Santorum edged Romney in the Iowa caucuses and pulled heavily from a base of social conservatives and evangelical Christians on his way to winning 10 other primary or caucus states.

However, he faces a far different political landscape heading into 2016.

Many Republicans attribute Santorum’s 2012 success to a weak field and weak front-runner.

The 2016 field is deep and packed with strong candidates, Republicans say, which will make it difficult for Santorum to break through.

He faces stiff competition from a handful of other candidates that will be looking to pull from his base of social conservatives, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses; Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine On The Money — Ban on stock trading for Congress gains steam MORE (R-Texas); retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Santorum might even have a difficult time qualifying for the GOP debates.

Fox News and CNN are capping the number of candidates for their first debates at 10, based on national polling numbers.

Santorum is currently in 10th place nationally in the Republican field with 2.3 percent support, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls. He’s also buried in 10th place in Iowa, taking only 3 percent support.

--This report was updated at 11:16 a.m.