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Rick Santorum to launch presidential bid in June

Rick Santorum, the former two-term senator from Pennsylvania, was known during his tenure for being one of the more socially-conservative members of Congress. And while he's not as well-known as some of the other top conservative candidates, Santorum is certainly laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign: a Republican operative in New Hampshire says that the former senator has traveled to that state more than ten times. Still, Santorum faces a potentially uphill battle in a presidential bid: his 18-point loss in his reelection bid in 2006 has not been forgotten - and he may be too conservative for moderate voters in New Hampshire, Florida, and other key states.
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum plans to formally announce his 2012 presidential run the week of June 5, an aide tells CBS News.

The outspoken social conservative has been making his intentions clear for more than a year, and participated in the first Republican presidential debate in May.

Santorum, who hails from Pennsylvania, served two terms in the Senate before losing his 2006 reelection bid his reelection bid by 18 points, the worst loss for a sitting senator since before Ronald Reagan became president. Since then, he has kept up his profile among conservatives by working as a Fox News contributor and regularly guest-hosting Bill Bennett's radio show.

Santorum is expected to focus his campaign in the early voting states where social conservatives make up a sizeable portion of the GOP electorate - Iowa and South Carolina. In Iowa, 60 percent of Republican caucus-goers in 2008 identified as "born-again Christians."

Santorum became a target of the left for comments in 2003 in which he referenced polygamy, incest and "man on dog" sex in a conversation about homosexuality. The comment prompted sex advice columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage to lead a charge to define the word "santorum" as a graphic term related to homosexual sex, creating a unique Google problem for the former senator.

In an interview with Hotsheet last year, Santorum said that he has "no problem from a public policy point of view with homosexuality."

Asked about his personal feelings on the subject, Santorum said, "I have personal feelings on a lot of things." He added that people have a right to do what they want in the privacy of their own home. "There are things that people do that I think are good, there are things that are bad, that really doesn't matter much," he stated.

Santorum, who has aggressively criticized both his Republican presidential rivals and President Obama in recent months, told CBS News political analyst John Dickerson in Aprilthat the president does not see America as exceptional.  (Watch at left.)

There are five Republican candidates already officially in the race: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Santorum, who has made repeated stops in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in recent months, has barely registered in early polls of the GOP field.