Rick Santorum surprised voters by nearly winning the Iowa Caucus Tuesday, giving the first indication in the 2012 Election that he may have a chance at the Republican nomination. Santorum was only eight votes shy of Mitt Romney, the GOP frontrunner, and the Iowa Caucus has been called an essential tie between the two leading candidates. Santorum gained 24.5 percent of the vote with 30,007 votes in the Iowa Caucus just shy of Romney's 24.6 percent with 30,015 votes.

Romney has remained the focus of discussions on the Republican candidates in the past few months, while Santorum has been cast along the sidelines in the GOP debates.  Santorum now hopes to use his momentum from the Iowa Caucus to develop a more public presence and large fan base.

The 53-year-old presidential candidate has extensive legislative experience. He began his political career in 1991 serving as a U.S. Representative from Penn. until 1995 when he was elected as a U.S. Senator.

He remained in the Senate until 2007 when he lost to Democrat Bob Casey Jr., 59 percent to 41 percent. Santorum lost the seat in the largest margin ever for a Republican incumbent Senator from Penn. Prior to his political career, Santorum worked as an attorney and returned to the legal field to work for the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. following his time as a Senator.  

Santorum is best known as the family values candidate in the 2012 election with staunch conservative views on issues from birth control to corporate taxation. Here are the thirteen top political, social and economic issues and Santorum's position on the issues.

Tip Sheet of Rick Santorum's Stance On Major Political, Social and Economic Issues:

Abortion: Santorum opposes abortion in all cases, even pregnancies caused by rape or incest. He also opposes birth control and believes couples should only have sex to procreate.

Afghanistan: Santorum has not outlined a clear timeline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, but he has been critical of both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Budget: Santorum seeks to cut the size of federal government spending to 18 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. He encourages a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Climate Change: Santorum does not believe there is proof of global warming or climate change.

Entitlements: Santorum has strong opinions on entitlement programs. He would like to see the eligibility age for Social Security raised and the privatization of Medicare.

Foreign Policy: Santorum was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, adamantly supported tougher policies in Libya and urged Obama to keep troops in Iraq for longer when the President decided to remove stationed troops in 2011.

Health Care Reform: Santorum claims that the problems of President Obama's health care plan encouraged him to run for president. He plans to repeal the health care law, but has not offered significant alternative policies.

Immigration: Santorum is a first generation American and he claims to understand the importance of immigration legislation. He favors the construction of a fence along the U.S. and Mexican border. He also supports making English the official language in the U.S. and he opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.  

Iran: Santorum has outlined a 15-point plan for dealing with Iran that ranges from diplomacy to military action. He has expressed a willingness to take necessary action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Iraq: Santorum supported the Iraq war in 2003 and has opposed President Obama's decision to withdraw troops. He believes that the U.S. has an obligation to stabilize Iraq that cannot be accomplished by pulling out troops.

Jobs: Santorum's plan to create more jobs includes cutting government spending, changing the individual tax code, loosening regulations and exploring energy alternatives. He would also repeal the Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.

Same-sex marriage and gay rights: Santorum opposes same-sex marriage, civil unions and gay rights. He also supports a constitutional amendment to distinguish marriage as legal only between a man and a woman.  

Taxes: Santorum has pledged to simplify individual tax codes and halve the corporate tax rate. He would also repeal the estate tax, extend the current capital gains and dividend tax rates and encourage multinational corporations to bring overseas earnings to the U.S. by having a five percent rate.

For a full analysis of the GOP Candidates, read: From Romney to Ron Paul: Everything You Need to Know About the GOP Presidential Candidates