Family Emergency Pulls Rick Santorum Off Fla. Campaign Trail; Daughter Recovering

January 29, 2012 - 10:45 PM
Santorum 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum exits the airport, Friday, Jan.<pp_img type=

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Sunday his daughter Bella remains in the hospital with pneumonia but is recovering after a rough 36 hours.

Santorum spoke with Florida supporters by telephone from 3-year-old Bella's hospital room and said doctors hope she can go home in the next few days.

The former Pennsylvania senator also said, "We're going to get out on the campaign trail later tomorrow ... heading out to the Midwest, and start campaigning in the next states as we move this campaign forward."

Santorum scheduled a speech Monday in Missouri and another event in southwest Minnesota — two states with early February contests. He then planned to head to Colorado and Nevada for events Tuesday.

"I feel very, very good about where we are and where the campaign is going," the candidate said.

But during the call with Florida voters, Santorum opened his remarks with his daughter, who has a genetic condition known as Trisomy 18. The condition typically proves fatal and Santorum often says his daughter wasn't expected to live past 12 months.

"She without a doubt has turned the corner," he said. But he cautioned she "isn't out of the woods yet."

Santorum called his daughter's improvement a "miraculous turnaround" after an unexpected detour from the campaign just days before Tuesday's Florida primary.

Santorum got to his home in Virginia around midnight Friday for a quick break to do his taxes, but found his daughter "was not doing well."

"I was up with her a lot of the night," he said. "By the end of the day, it was really, really clear she was struggling."

Saturday evening, Santorum aides announced Bella had been admitted to the hospital and they canceled his morning interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" and church services in Miami. His aides later canceled his trip to Florida and instead sent his 20-year-old daughter to campaign for him.

Santorum described the situation as a "very, very tough night last night" but said by late Sunday Bella was "alert and back to her own beautiful, happy girl."

"It's been a very hectic 36 hours," Santorum said. "Life in the Santorum family has dramatically improved since the late afternoon."