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Santorum forms exploratory committee before upcoming debate

Republican Sen. Rick Santorum took the next step in his likely campaign for president by today announcing the formation of an exploratory committee. The former Republican senator had previously only formed a "testing the waters committee." 

Santorum's announcement comes just two days before the first Republican presidential debate hosted by FOX News and the South Carolina Republican Party -- which requires its participants to have formed exploratory committees before the debate.  

"I filed today for an exploratory committee. I'm not announced for president, but basically I'm in the position now where I can participate in the FOX debate," Santorum told Sean Hannity on his radio program.

The May 5 debate in Greenville, SC will include other potential candidates in addition to Santorum -- like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, and businessman Herman Cain.

Santorum's radio interview later turned to the death of Osama bin Laden. While Santorum gave the president credit for making the call, he also was critical saying that President Obama "should give credit to the person he got the information from -- and that's George W. Bush."

But as NBC's Michael Isikoff reported, while some current and former U.S. officials "credited those interrogations [during the Bush administration] with producing the big break in the case, others countered that they failed to produce what turned out to be the most crucial piece of intelligence of all: the identity and whereabouts of the most important figure in bin Laden courier's network."