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Posted at 08:29 AM ET, 01/30/2012

Santorum to return to campaign trail


Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum gives an autograph at the First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., Wednesday. (Paul Sancya - AP)
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Rick Santorum will return to the campaign trail Monday afternoon as his youngest daughter recovers in the hospital.

Santorum, whose daughter Bella, suffers from Trisomy 18 a rare and fatal genetic disorder had canceled all of his Sunday events in Florida to tend to his daughter.

He told supporters on a conference call Sunday night that the three-year old has had a rough 36 hours battling pneumonia, according to the Associated Press, but has improved.

“She without a doubt has turned the corner,” he said.

Supporters at an event here Sunday prayed for Bella and had a moment of silence for Santorum’s seventh child.

The Republican candidate has often spoken about her on the stump and how she has defied the odds — most babies with her condition, which causes severe mental and physical impairments, die within weeks of birth.

Bella was hospitalized Saturday night while the GOP hopeful was at home for fundraisers and to prepare his taxes for public release.

Santorum will not return to Florida where polls show him in third place behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

He will return to the stump Monday afternoon in St. Louis where he will deliver a speech on jobs and the economy. The former Pennsylvania senator then heads to Minnesota, Colorado and Nevada where he will spend primary night, all but conceding the Florida race.

Santorum has insisted that he has no plans to leave the race, even given his poor showing in the last contests and his family issues.

Santorum has cast himself as the only true and consistent conservative in the race, and his long marriage and seven children have been central to his story. In the run up to South Carolina he got the endorsement of a group of evangelical leaders, yet still lost out among social conservatives in that contest.

While he has strong showings in debates, he has struggled to capitalize on his Iowa victory and has consistently outmatched in money and organization by his opponents.

Sunday, his oldest daughter, Elizabeth, took to he stump on her father’s behalf and spoke about the sacrifice that the family had to make due to the rigors of campaigning for national office.

By  |  08:29 AM ET, 01/30/2012

 
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