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The 2012 Hopefuls: Rick Santorum

Learn about the former GOP presidential candidate and his views on Social Security, Medicare and more

Richard “Rick” Santorum, Republican Candidates President 2012

With his daughter Elizabeth, Rick Santorum campaigns in Fort Madison, Iowa. An attorney, the candidate's political experience includes representing Pennsylvania in Congress as a senator and representative. — Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Prime

Richard "Rick" Santorum

(Dropped out of race on April 10, 2012)

Born: May 10, 1958, in Winchester, Va.

Job history: U.S. senator, Pennsylvania, 1994-2007; U.S. congressman, 1991-95; practicing attorney

Education: B.A., Pennsylvania State University; MBA, University of Pittsburgh; J.D., Dickinson School of Law

Personal: Married to Karen (Garver) Santorum; Roman Catholic

Campaign website: RickSantorum.com

Rick Santorum made his political name on social issues, with ardent opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, and the "radical feminism" he said offered more social affirmation to working women than women who stayed home with their families. Santorum is considered a long shot, but the man who earned the schoolboy nickname "Rooster" for his bold and strutting ways believes he might surprise the pollsters.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

Santorum also has been a longtime voice on the reform of Social Security. During his first run for the Senate in 1994, Santorum recommended raising the retirement age to "at least 70." Later, he amended his views, saying he wanted younger people to have the option of having personal retirement accounts, with individual control over the investments. Santorum does not want to scrap the Medicare drug coverage, he said in a September debate. But in a 2006 survey of candidates by AARP, Santorum opposed allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices under Part D, saying it would have a negligible effect on prices and could hinder patient access to drugs. In 1997, he voted for means-testing for Medicare premiums. (It failed then, but has since been instituted.)

While exploring a presidential run, Santorum called for the repeal of the health care overhaul law and backed the plan by Rep. Paul Ryan to replace the current Medicare program with a voucher system, whereby citizens now 50 or younger would buy their own insurance. Mixing two of his signature issues, Santorum drew criticism in March for suggesting the abortion rate was responsible for the state of Social Security. "The reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don't have enough workers to support the retirees. Well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end in abortion," the former senator said on a New Hampshire radio station.

Santorum has apologized for his vote for the bill creating Medicare Part D, saying Congress and President Bush wrongly made it a universal program when only a fraction of retired people did not have drug coverage.

Medicaid, too, needs to be cut and converted into block grants to the states, he says. It should be reformed as welfare was in the mid-1990s, Santorum said, telling CBN News that the current Medicaid program — a federal-state system — is "a perverse incentive for states to spend money."

Taxes and budget

Santorum has yet to release a tax plan, but said it will include lower corporate taxes and a simplification of the tax code, limiting loopholes. He also favors a balanced budget amendment.

Susan Milligan is a prize-winning Washington reporter.

Also of interest: AARP’s voter education guide.

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