"Miraculous turnaround" for sick Santorum girl

Elizabeth Santorum, eldest daughter of Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, campaigns for her father in a hanger at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport in Sarasota, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, where he was scheduled to appear. Santorum is staying home in Philadelphia to be with 3-year-old Isabella, who is hospitalized. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) Paul Sancya

Elizabeth Santorum, eldest daughter of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, campaigns for her father in a hanger at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport in Sarasota, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012.
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
MIAMI, Fla. - Rick Santorum said his youngest daughter Bella has made a "miraculous turnaround" after being hospitalized for pneumonia and delaying his return to the campaign trail this weekend.

"Thank you so much for those prayers. They have lifted us up," Santorum told a group of Florida voters on a tele-town hall he held Sunday evening. He added that his daughter was "alert" after what he described as a "very, very tough night" for his family on Saturday. She is currently wearing a mask to assist her breathing, and is expected to spend between two and four more days in the hospital, he said.

Bella, 3, was born with a severe genetic abnormality that claims the lives of most children within a year of birth.

Santorum had left Florida on Friday to hold events in Philadelphia and prepare his tax returns for public release from his home in Virginia. He joked that he owed thanks to the press for sending him home to produce the documents, which meant he was close by when his daughter fell ill. She was admitted to a local hospital in Virginia, he said, not to her usual hospital in Philadelphia.

The former Pennsylvania senator will not be returning to Florida ahead of Tuesday's primary. His campaign issued a new schedule Sunday night that put him Cottleville, Mo. on Monday afternoon to give "a major address focusing on jobs, the economy, and American competitiveness."

Santorum also planned to hold a town hall Monday in Luverne, Minn.; a rally Tuesday in Lone Tree, Colo., and a Florida primary watch party Tuesday night in Las Vegas. All four of those states have contests coming up, starting with the Nevada caucuses Saturday.

Polls in Florida show Santorum well behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich and his campaign had been weighing how hard to compete here. His campaign held previously scheduled events in the state on Sunday, but his daughter Elizabeth and members of reality TV's Duggar family attended in his stead.

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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