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Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has now officially launched a 2012 Presidential Exploratory Committee. The move clears the way for Santorum to participate in the May 5th Republican debate on Fox News.

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Report from CBS News:

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum has launched a presidential exploratory committee, clearing the way for him to appear at the first debate for 2012 Republican contenders on Thursday evening.

“I am pleased that we have taken this important next step in the process to potentially become a candidate for President of the United States,” he said. “The debate this Thursday is a unique opportunity to put forth ideas and solutions to bring our economy back on track, and with Osama bin Laden’s death, I look forward to also discussing in depth ways to tackle our many national security challenges.”

Santorum needed to file his exploratory committee to qualify for the debate, and he came in just under the deadline to do so. He is expected to appear on the debate stage with Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and Herman Cain. Mitt Romney, who is eligible, is declining to participate.

We should have a permanent list at this point of which candidates will be participating in Thursday’s debate.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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