Rick Santorum

Santorum, whose presidential campaign began with minimal fanfare and ended up being Mitt Romney's biggest hurdle during the primaries, was a conduit for social conservatives displeased with Romney, particularly his past positions on gay rights and abortion. Although some blame the far right's ideological rigidness for Romney's defeat, the far right and the tea party are still prominent elements of the GOP, and Santorum could remain popular in 2016.

( Tom Pennington/Getty Images / November 19, 2012 )

Santorum, whose presidential campaign began with minimal fanfare and ended up being Mitt Romney's biggest hurdle during the primaries, was a conduit for social conservatives displeased with Romney, particularly his past positions on gay rights and abortion. Although some blame the far right's ideological rigidness for Romney's defeat, the far right and the tea party are still prominent elements of the GOP, and Santorum could remain popular in 2016.

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