Rick Santorum Says Daughter Bella Has a ‘Miraculous Turnaround’

Jan 29, 2012 11:06pm
gty bella santorum jt 120129 wblog Rick Santorum Says Daughter Bella Has a Miraculous Turnaround

(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Rick Santorum made his first public comments on the health of his youngest daughter, Isabella, this evening on a tele-town hall with voters, saying she has had a “miraculous turnaround.”

“She’s had a miraculous turnaround,” Santorum said on the call with Florida voters. “We have a long way to go, but she turned the corner and we are very, very grateful.”

He confirmed that his daughter, who the family calls Bella, was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs and said the family had a “very difficult 36 hours.” The former Pennsylvania senator said his daughter remains in intensive care and will be in the hospital for several more days.

Bella suffers from Trisomy 18, a rare and serious genetic disorder that kills about 90 percent of children before or during birth.

Santorum said he traveled home this weekend to attend two fundraisers and to retrieve his taxes from his home computer, but he said he spent most of Friday night up with Bella, calling it a “very, very tough night,” and by Saturday she needed to be hospitalized.

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

The campaign released a statement Saturday evening saying the 3-year-old was hospitalized at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she is regularly treated, but Santorum later corrected that information saying Bella was “too fragile” to travel from their home in Virginia to Philadelphia and she was admitted to a local hospital.

Santorum said Bella still has “a long way to go,” but he she has “turned the corner.” On another tele-town hall with Minnesota voters later this evening he said she’s “on the mend, really miraculously on the mend” and the family “dodged another bullet.”

He added that he’s “feeling pretty pumped” because Bella’s condition had improved in the “last six or seven hours” and she was no longer in the “very dangerous” situation she was in over the weekend.

He did the two tele-town halls from his daughter’s hospital room where he said his wife, Karen, was smiling at Bella’s improvement.

He thanked the callers for their prayers and said Bella was “alert” and “smiling through her mask.”

“I know how she got through it,” Santorum said on the call with Minnesota voters. “It was with the hands of these doctors and the prayers that guided those hands.”

The Santorum campaign cancelled a Monday morning event at an Orthodox synagogue in Boca Raton in South Florida, but the candidate will be back on the campaign trail Monday afternoon, scheduling events in Missouri and Minnesota.

Florida is a winner-take-all state, meaning the victor on Tuesday will head out of this important primary and general election state with all of its delegates. Since the state broke party rules by pushing its primary forward there is a slight chance it will not be winner takes all, something Santorum cites as one of his reasons for campaigning here, but there is almost no real chance of this.

Since there is almost no chance Santorum will carry delegates out of this state on Tuesday, it makes little political sense for the candidate to remain in a state where Romney and Gingrich are engaged in a bloody battle for Florida and Romney is leading in polls. Santorum told reporters last week that he probably would not be in Florida on Tuesday, the day Floridians vote.

Missouri and Minnesota vote on Feb. 7, but delegates will not be counted in Missouri until their caucus on March 17. Unlike Florida, delegates will be distributed proportionally in both states.

Tuesday, Santorum will campaign in Colorado and Nevada, which hold their caucuses on Feb. 7 and Feb. 4, repectively.

He also said on the call with Florida voters that he the campaign is “hiring folks across the country in preparation for states down the line” and they already have volunteers in upcoming primary and caucus states. He added they will be spending money on mailers and television ads in upcoming contested states as well.

“We’ve tried to stay out of the muck, stay out of the personal accusations … the mud-slinging back and forth,” Santorum said referring to Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

At the end of the call with Florida voters he told them the “election is wide open” here, but said the race will “not be decided in Florida, it will not be decided for quite some time, but it can have a big say.”

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