RUN, RICK, RUN…. Rick Santorum’s presidential ambitions probably should have ended in November 2006, when he lost his Senate re-election bid by a humiliating 18 points. The far-right lawmaker had made some behind-the-scenes moves before the campaign about a run for the White House, but those efforts quickly ended when Santorum was roundly rejected by his home-state voters.

They were not, however, ended permanently. Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum is apparently taking the possibility of a presidential campaign seriously.

Speaking to a room full of prominent US Catholic leaders Friday night, Senator Rick Santorum was challenged to run for President. Responding to a room already thick with applause, Santorum revealed that he was indeed “thinking about it” but asked for prayers and detailed his thinking on the matter. […]

The last consideration in favor of his run was on the practical level. He said: “Six months ago I would not have spent ten seconds on your question, but it’s not six months ago. I see that, I hate to be calculating, but I see that 2012 is not just throwing somebody out to be eaten, but it’s a real opportunity for success.”

Assessing President Obama’s chances of re-election just seven months into his first year in office strikes me as a mistake, but Santorum’s comments suggest he’s actually considering this. Indeed, in three weeks, Santorum will be traveling to Iowa for some events, as part of a pre-exploratory exploring.

As for the merit behind the former senator’s thinking, Mark McKinnon, a former aide to George W. Bush and John McCain, recently explained, “A Rick Santorum presidency would be very, very dangerous for America.”

There’s no reason to think that would stop him from trying. In fact, it would probably be part of Santorum’s pitch to the GOP base.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.