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Report: Rick Santorum planning 2016 run

Former US Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum waves after speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 15, 2013. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

We're only 6 months into President Obama's second term, but former Pennsylvania senator and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is reportedly already gearing up for 2016.

(Image: AP)

NRO's Robert Costa reports:

Almost everybody has written off Rick Santorum as a 2016 contender — everybody, that is, except Rick Santorum.

Behind the scenes, the former Pennsylvania senator is quietly preparing for another presidential run. Trips to Iowa are in the works, he’s meeting daily with his advisers, and he’s already fine-tuning his message for the early primaries.

Hints of that pitch came last Thursday during a fiery speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s summer conference. Santorum cast himself as a populist conservative. “When all you do is talk to people who are owners,” he warned, the GOP becomes nothing more than a social club for entrepreneurs.

For Santorum, it marked the start of his unofficial campaign. He tells me he plans to build upon his speech’s theme in the coming months, positioning himself as a conservative outsider.

“Some of the Wall Street folks have hijacked the party,” he says. “But we can’t just be a party that’s aligned with where the money comes from.”

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Santorum isn't the only one with his eye on 2016.  In other presidential election news, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  received an early endorsement today from Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill via Ready for Hillary, an independent group urging Clinton to run:

“Hillary Clinton had to give up her political operation while she was making us proud, representing us around the world as an incredible Secretary of State, and that’s why Ready for Hillary is so critical,” McCaskill said. “It’s important that we start early, building a grassroots army from the ground up, and effectively using the tools of the Internet – all things that President Obama did so successfully – so that if Hillary does decide to run, we’ll be ready to help her win.”

Sen. McCaskill commended Ready for Hillary for embracing the early supporters of then-Sen. Obama, saying, “They aren’t only reaching out to folks who supported Hillary in 2008. They’re helping to show that regardless of who you supported for President back then, we can all agree today that there is nobody better equipped to be our next President than Hillary Clinton.”

“We are incredibly grateful to have Senator McCaskill’s support in this effort,” said Ready for Hillary Senior Advisor Craig T. Smith. “Like Hillary, Senator McCaskill is a fighter – dedicated in her efforts to strengthen accountability in government – and a champion for women, children, and families. Ready for Hillary is fortunate to have such a powerful and respected leader like Claire joining our grassroots team.”

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