By John-Henry Westen

ORLANDO, FL, September 12, 2009 ( - Speaking to a room full of prominent US Catholic leaders Friday night, Senator Rick Santorum was challenged to run for the Republican Presidential nominaion.  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.

His remarks came after his address to the closing dinner of the 12th annual Catholic Leadership Conference - an invite-only gathering of Catholic leaders from academia, law, media, medicine, and politics, as well as leaders of movements within the Church such as pro-life, pro-family and evangelization.  Posing the challenge was long-time legal, political, and media activist Keith Fournier.

Santorum is not only a Catholic in name but a faithful one who is noted for his strong pro-life activism and work to bring decency back to America.  He revealed that he has seven children, with one in college.  The reason why the sixth is not college-bound is the fact that his 16-month-old 'Bella' was born with Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder which is fatal before birth in 90 per cent of cases.

Santorum referred to Bella as "our angel" marveling at how she changed his life, and that of his family for the better. Speaking of children like Bella, he said, "They teach you things you can't even imagine." 

Here Santorum turned to abortion describing his reason for fighting against it politically saying, "I think of we treat these people in society and how we destroy them.  86% of Down syndrome children are aborted - killed.  And Down syndrome is 5 times better than what Bella has."

Considering how his children may themselves be the targets of nasty politics, as has happened in the recent past, gives Santorum pause.  "That weighs on me," he said. "When you stand up for the things I do and say the things I say, they brutalize you and they won't stop at you."

Those are the things, he explained that "as a father I've got to think about."

"On the other side," he added, "as a father, I've got to think about whether they are going to have a country to live in … Are they going to be able to practice their faith in a way that's consistent with what the Church teaches."

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."

In closing he said that while he was "thinking about it", it is the first time his ambition which is, as he said, "in his DNA" was checked by a resistance saying, "no, I'm not sure."

Ending the session, Catholic political powerhouse Deal Hudson (President George W. Bush's Catholic advisor for a period of time) cited Plato's famous saying that the best governors are those who do not wish to govern.