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Posted at 11:12 AM ET, 01/30/2012

Rick Santorum: Daughter Bella almost died, but has rallied

Rick Santorum, who will return to the campaign trail in Missouri Monday afternoon, said that his three-year-old daughter Isabella, who suffers from a serious genetic disorder, almost died this weekend after a serious bout with pneumonia.

“A simple cold can kill her, and it almost did this weekend. She ended up with pneumonia and a cold,” Santorum told conservative commentator Glenn Beck on his radio show Monday. “But she was able to get great care and yesterday really made a great turn around and she will be out of the ICU today and so we are getting back to normal here.”

His daughter, known as Bella, who suffers from Trisomy 18, a rare disease that causes severe mental and physical impairments. Santorum said she bounced back Sunday after she was hospitalized in Philadelphia Saturday.

“She had a very tough go of it, but yesterday afternoon she rallied, and she’s on the mend,” he said. “We are feeling very, very blessed, I just want to thank everybody for their prayers.”

Santorum’s supporters prayed at an event here Sunday, kicking it off with a moment of silence for Bella.

The former Pennsylvania senator has no plans to return to Florida ahead of Tuesday’s primary--he has not run any ads on television and said early on that the winner-take-all contest was likely beyond his reach.

A favorite among social conservatives and evangelicals, Santorum has put his family, and particularly his ill daughter, at the center of the his campaign.

“I have a little girl who’s 3 1 / 2 years old,” he said in his dinner speech at the annual “Defenders of Freedom” event in November, as reported by Melinda Henneberger. “I don’t know whether her life is going to be measured — it’s always been measured — in days and weeks. Yet here I am...Because I feel like I wouldn’t be a good dad if I wasn’t out here fighting for a country that would see the dignity in her and every other child.”

Santorum is scheduled to deliver a jobs and economy speech in Missouri Monday and will spend election night in Nevada, where he just opened a campaign headquarters.

“I feel like we can get back on the trail again, Karen and the kids feel good that they are here to take care of her,” he said. “We’re not going anywhere, we are going to run hard…we are in this thing for the long haul. And the longer we are in, hopefully people will see, we’re the right choice.”

By  |  11:12 AM ET, 01/30/2012

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