Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, one of the U.S. Senate’s leading pro-life stalwarts until he was defeated in 2006 by fellow Catholic Robert Casey Jr., will visit Iowa this fall.

Santorum’s Oct. 1 visit, which will include a workshop and luncheon with Iowa’s Right to Life group, is seen by Politico as an opportunity for the Republican politician to “dip his toe” into the state’s political waters to test the prospects for a possible candidacy in the 2012 presidential race. Iowa’s presidential caucuses traditionally inaugurate the primary season in each election cycle.

Reported Politico:

“Your voice becomes more amplified when you go to a place like Iowa or New Hampshire,” Santorum explained in an interview Tuesday about the visit.

Like other potential White House aspirants, he insisted it was too early to consider a presidential run. But he acknowledged that he was interested in taking a higher profile in the party.

“I’m very concerned about the state of affairs in this country and how Republicans are dealing with [issues], so this is an opportunity for me to go out and talk about things I think we need to be doing to turn this country in the right direction,” Santorum said of the Iowa trek — a visit invariably seen as presidential water-testing for any ambitious politician.