Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum used the Somerset County Courthouse as a backdrop as he made his official announcement that he’s running for President of the United States in 2012. On a bright, sunny day in western Pennsylvania, Santorum’s speech was momentarily interrupted when a spectator fainted near the stage. After assisting those who helped the unnamed supporter to their feet, Santorum returned to the lectern to finish his speech.
Santorum says he chose Somerset County for his announcement because his grandfather left Italy to come to the area as a coal miner in 1927. That was just 5 years after Benito Mussolini took power, and Santorum says his grandfather left the old country for one word: “freedom.”
The former Senator and Congressman also took several jabs at President Barack Obama, saying the President had devalued America’s currency through his economic policies, but also devalued the nation’s “moral currency” through a social agenda that includes federal funding of abortions and the President’s lack of support for the Defense of Marriage Act.
Santorum joins a crowded, but wide open Republican presidential field that already includes Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain, among others. He has spent months unofficially campaigning in early primary and caucus states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, including an appearance at the first GOP debate in South Carolina last month. The next Republican debate is scheduled one week from today in New Hampshire. It will be the biggest stage yet in the burgeoning race for the 2012 Republican nomination.