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10 things you didn't know about Rick Santorum...

...but might like to know in the wake of his Iowa surge.

Rick Santorum, Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator, may be relatively unknown but he almost beat GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney in yesterday's Iowa caucus, trailing Romney by a mere eight votes. Let's be clear: Santorum won't be the Republican nominee come November. But he will now be the subject of countless media profiles, debates and discussions - as well as a bunch of vicious, attack ads from the Romney machine in New Hampshire.

So, here are ten things you might not know about Richard John "Rick" Santorum but might like to know:

1) Santorum, the most belligerent of the ultra-hawkish GOP presidential candidates, has said that if he's elected president, he would order the bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities unless they were opened up to international arms inspectors and then dismantled.

2) Santorum is a friend and ally of U2 front man and anti-poverty campaigner, Bono, who told the New York Times in 2006: "I would suggest that Rick Santorum has a kind of Tourette's disease; he will always say the most unpopular thing. But on our issues, he has been a defender of the most vulnerable."

3) Santorum, an evangelical Catholic, supports a blanket ban on abortion without exceptions for rape or incest, and has compared homosexual relationships to "man on child, man on dog" relations.

4) The afore-mentioned comments by Santorum resulted in a notorious Google-bombing of the then US senator in 2003. (Caution: only click on the previous links if you have, ahem, a strong constitution...)

5) Santorum could be considered an Islamophobe: he has called for the profiling of Muslims and told Bates College students in March 2010 that Islam is stuck in the seventh century and beyond reform or modernisation.

6) As a young lawyer, prior to being elected to Congress, he represented the World Wrestling Federation, arguing that professional wrestling should be exempt from the regulations on anabolic steroids because it wasn't a real sport.

7) Santorum has advocated bigger and faster cuts to government spending than most of his right-wing rivals for the Republican nomination: $5 trillion of cuts in federal spending in the space of just five years. (Yet, curiously, he has still been labelled as a "big government conservative" by Telegraph blogger James Delingpole.)

8) When his baby Gabriel died at childbirth, Santorum and his wife spent the night in a hospital bed with the body and then took it home where, joined by their other children, they prayed over it, cuddled with it and welcomed the baby into the family.

9) Santorum believes that "there is no such thing as global warming"; it is "junk science". He supports a policy of "drill everywhere" for oil and gas.

10) Santorum wasn't always so opposed to current rival Mitt Romney; in February 2008, prior to the last presidential election, he said: "If you're a conservative, there really is only one place to go right now...I would even argue farther than that. If you're a Republican, if you're a Republican in the broadest sense, there is only one place to go right now and that's Mitt Romney."

Given the result in Iowa, we can only assume now that Republican primary voters in 2012 will heed Santorum's 2008 advice and pick Romney.