WASHINGTON – The 3-year-old daughter of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has been released from a Virginia hospital and is settling in at home with her parents, a campaign spokesman said Tuesday.
Bella Santorum, who suffers from a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 18, was hospitalized Friday as her father began a brief holiday break from campaigning. Santorum did not campaign Monday so he could be with his daughter, who was discharged from the hospital Monday night.
Campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said Santorum has cancelled his first two events scheduled for Tuesday, but will add a campaign stop in Gettysburg, Pa., in the afternoon. He will also join James Dobson, the founder of the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family, for what the campaign called a "conversation on faith, family and American values" in Lancaster, Pa., on Tuesday night.
Gidley said Santorum and his wife, Karen, were "truly overwhelmed by the prayers and support they've received."
Santorum faces an uphill battle against front-runner Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Five states, including Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania, hold primaries April 24.
Romney is spending $2.9 million in TV ads in Pennsylvania. But in deference to Bella's illness, Romney's campaign pulled down a harsh ad that was running against the former Pennsylvania senator there. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Monday the campaign asked TV stations over the weekend to pull the ad and replace it with a positive, pro-Romney spot.
Romney is far ahead of Santorum in the race for delegates to the Republican National Convention and is the party's likely nominee. Santorum has said he won't drop out of the race, though he has acknowledged he will have to win Pennsylvania if his campaign is to survive.
Santorum carries a photo of Bella and often says she wasn't expected to live beyond her first birthday. Her story is well-known to religious conservatives who back Santorum because of his strong position against abortion.