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Never too early to get ahead, right? The former US Senator from Pennsylvania is working the ground game in Iowa quietly trying to maintain a deep rapport with social conservatives ahead of the 2016 (!) Iowa caucus. Santorum, if you’ll recall, narrowly squeaked out a victory over Mitt Romney in the 2012 Iowa caucus.

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Report from the Des Moines Register:

The 2016 Iowa caucus campaign is wide open for Republican presidential candidates, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum can’t claim frontrunner status despite his victory in the 2012 GOP caucuses, says U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.

“I wouldn’t consider anybody at this point to be a frontrunner,” Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said Wednesday in his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters.

Santorum hasn’t announced his intentions for the 2016 campaign, but he appears to be laying the groundwork for another presidential run. He is scheduled to return to Iowa in August for appearances at the Iowa State Fair and at an Aug. 8 fundraising dinner for the Lyon County Republican Party in northwest Iowa. On Aug. 10, Santorum is scheduled to speak in Ames at the Family Leadership Summit sponsored by the Iowa Family Leader, Citizens United, Heritage Action, and The National Organization for Marriage.

I think Santorum may have a tougher go of things in 2016 even compared to 2012. His hawkish foreign policy brand of conservatism isn’t so much in demand right now as displayed by the support being given to libertarian-leaning voices like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Santorum may be best suited to stick to the social issues which will surely be a hot-button debate among the GOP field in 2016. Do they abandon social issues and focus solely on the economy and growing government or are they all-in for the three legs of the Republican coalition stool?

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