Election 101: Nine things to know about Rick Santorum and his White House bid

Rick Santorum’s 16-year career in politics can be charted through his rigorous positions on hot-button issues: welfare, abortion, gay rights. His boldness has made Mr. Santorum a politician that people either really like or don’t just as deeply.

By , Correspondent

2. What are his strengths?

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    Republican presidential hopeful and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum shakes hands with New Hampshire state Rep. Thomas Howard before touring Rugar Firearms in Newport, N.H. on May 31.
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Novak notes how Santorum takes retail campaigning to a new level, thriving in the living-room setting with his soft tone and personal style. “He knows how to humanize issues. He’ll talk about what the budget deficit means for people coming out of college and getting homes.”

That ability to connect extends to being clear and concise on foreign affairs, says Professor Clovis, where Santorum's eight years of experience on the Senate Armed Services Committee stand him in good stead with voters.

Santorum wins praise from supporters for being a straight-shooter and for bringing up uncomfortable subjects before they became acceptable to address.

“He has been a visionary,” says Girard, noting that Santorum has long advocated shoring up the nation’s financial health through entitlement reform. When Santorum spoke of reforming Social Security in 1994, his poll “numbers dropped like a rock,” says Novak.

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