Rick Santorum was born on May 10, 1958 in Virginia. He is the son of a clinical pshycholgist father and a nurse mother, but regularly cites his grandfather's work as a coal miner to connect with working class voters.
Santorum attended school and was raised at various times in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. He graduated with a BA degree in political science and a law degree from Penn State University. He was active in Republican politics throughout his time in college.
Santorum authored It Takes a Family in 2005, a book focusing on social issues and morality. It was also a counter-argument to the similarly-titled book by Hillary Clinton, It Takes a Village. He is married to Karen Santorum and they have 7 children together.
After graduating law school in 1986, Rick Santorum was a practicing lawyer for four years until winning a seat in the US House of Representatives in 1990. He served two terms before deciding to taking aim at Harris Wofford's senate seat.
Santorum took advantage of the anti-Clinton sentiment in the country in 1994 and rode the Republican Revolution wave to a 49-47% victory over Wofford. He won re-election once in 2000, but was handily defeated (59-41%) in 2006 to Democrat Bob Casey. Though 2006 was a poor year for Republicans, Santorum easily suffered the worst defeat of any incumbent Republican that year.
Rick Santorum has worked counter to conservatives a number of times. He acted as a rubber-stamp to the big-spending Bush agenda of the 2000's that would later spark creation of the tea party movement.
In 2004, he supported Arlen Specter over conservative Pat Toomey in the Republican primary for Pennsyivlania's other senate seat. Santorum angered conservatives by arguing Toomey was too conservative for the seat. Specter narrowly won the primary and a few years later switched parties to cast the deciding vote for Obamacare.
Santorum has also been a vigorous defender of labor unions. As a congressman, Santorum sided with Democrats in a bill that prevented companies from permanently replacing striking workers. He also opposed pro-business right-to-work legislation, angering many in the business community. He has claimed his support for labor unions is reflective of his state's values.
2012 Presidential Campaign:
Santorum was one of the earliest entrants into the 2012 Republican field. He stated regularly in early debates that social issues were as big of an issue in the presidential race as economic ones. He failed to gain traction in a field that was much more well known and better funded.
He decided to place the fate of his campaign on the Iowa caucuses. As a number of other social conservatives rose and fell, including Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann, Santorum peaked at the right time and landed the support of most of the state's evangelical leaders. As a result of his time and effort in the state, he was able to win the caucus by a handful of votes over Mitt Romney. This successfully launched his money-raising efforts and ability to further compete.