Santorum campaign dismisses calls to drop out

The next primaries in the Republican presidential race are held in Alabama and Mississippi, where the candidates are trying to lay claim to the conservative south. Nancy Cordes reports.

AP Photo/Eric Gay
(CBS News) Despite reports that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is making moves to end his bid for the Republican nomination, the former Pennsylvania Senator's campaign says it's not true.

"Of course not - no," the Senator is not planning on leaving the race, Santorum spokesperson Hogan Gidley told CBS News.

Gidley said not to read into the extended weekend Santorum is taking to observe Easter. (Front-runner Mitt Romney is also taking a few days off from the campaign trail).

Santorum is also facing a personal challenge as his daughter Bella, who has the often-fatal genetic disorder Trisomy 18, was hospitalized Friday. While Gidley would not comment on Bella's condition, he said Santorum will be back on the campaign trail Tuesday with two events in Pennsylvania.

The campaign emailed the candidate's schedule to reporters Saturday morning to dispel dropout rumors. It is sparse with just one event per day after Tuesday. However, Gidley said the schedule will fill up as the dates get closer. The Pennsylvania primary is April 24.

Gidley noted that Santorum's wife, Karen, and daughter, Elizabeth, will be doing a mother-daughter sweep of the Keystone State next week as well.

As for advertising, the Santorum campaign has not yet purchased any advertising time. Gidley said the campaign plans to do so in Pennsylvania and in other upcoming states soon, but that the campaign is still determining resources and strategy for the April 24 primary states, which also include New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware.

"We'll be up soon," Gidley said about television advertising.

Meanwhile, the Romney campaign has bought $2.9 million of advertising in Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, which will begin airing Monday.

Santorum met with conservative leaders in the Washington, D.C. area on Thursday to plot a path forward. Leaders who attended said the discussion was not about Santorum dropping out, but about how to win Pennsylvania, which they say is critical to Santorum's success.

Santorum represented Pennsylvania in Congress for 15 years until he lost his Senate reelection bid in 2006.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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