Eldest daughter and reality show star stand in for Santorum
January 29th, 2012
05:28 PM ET
11 years ago

Eldest daughter and reality show star stand in for Santorum

Sarasota, Florida (CNN) - At a rally in an airplane hangar here Sunday morning, several campaign surrogates spoke on behalf of Rick Santorum while the GOP candidate stayed home in Pennsylvania to care for his youngest daughter, 3-year-old Isabella, who was admitted to a hospital Saturday night.

A campaign aide confirmed prior to the event that Bella, as her family calls her, returned to the hospital on Saturday because she had contracted pneumonia in both of her lungs, but as she was not placed on a ventilator the family is hopeful she'll make a speedy recovery.

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The highest profile surrogate was Santorum's 20-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who was clearly emotional when she arrived at the private airport before the rally. She took the stage last, following her father’s Florida chairman and several members of the Duggar family from the TLC reality-TV show "19 Kids and Counting."

"My dad today is exercising his most important role, which is being a dad," Elizabeth Santorum said told the crowd of roughly 250 people.

Last Tuesday at an identical event sponsored by the Republican Party of Sarasota, Newt Gingrich attracted thousands to the same hangar.

Although she stayed away from the issue of her sister's health during her largely positive four-minute address, Elizabeth Santorum spoke briefly to members of the media after the event, declining to give any details of her sister's condition.

"She got sick and right now she's in the hospital and we're hoping and praying she will be better soon," Elizabeth Santorum said.

Bella suffers from a chromosomal condition called Trisomy 18 caused by extra material from chromosome 18. It is three times more common in girls than boys, and patients who survive past the first week experience serious medical and developmental problems, according to the National Institutes of Health. Bella spent much of her first year of life in the hospital, but the Santorum family has primarily been able to care for her at home since then.

"We do what we do as a family. We stick together and we get through and we are hanging in there," Elizabeth Santorum told reporters, adding that her father would be back in Florida "as soon as he can, and right now family comes first, being a dad and being a husband right now, so that's why he's home."

Josh Duggar, the oldest of the Duggar's 19 children, was quite pointed in his criticisms of Santorum's GOP opponents, laying into Mitt Romney for allowing abortions to be covered under his Massachusetts health care reform.

"The man who said he had a change of heart, he had an epiphany, he had this moment where he became pro-life - this man still has not went back and made that right," Duggar said. "And women in Massachusetts still walk in, and basically off the hand of Gov. Mitt Romney, they can get an abortion for $50."

Duggar also hit Romney for his support of gays and lesbians as governor.

"In '04 or '05 he issued a declaration saying that basically that homosexuals and homosexual lifestyles should be encouraged and he made a declaration from the state as governor that that should be accepted in society," Duggar said. "This man is not someone who is on our side."

Incorporating Gingrich into his final attack, Duggar ended by saying, "Both of these men have been on both sides of the issues that you and I hold dear."


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soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. angel611

    I am so glad that Rick has great insurance to pay for his daughter's illlness especially since he and all the other Republicans don't want the poor and middle class to have health insurance. It's nice to wish horrible things on other people when you are fine and live in a 3 milllion dollar house.
    So how is the wealthy being the 'haves" and everyone else being the "have nots" NOT the wealthy peoples' type of class warfare and elevation of the wealthy to god like status?

    January 29, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Mike in Texas

    Oxymorons: Jumbo Shrimp
    Military Intelligence
    Reality TV

    January 29, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  3. mm

    Don't care for the man's politics, but wish his daughter a speedy recovery and he and his family the strength to keep taking care of this little girl.

    January 29, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  4. whoppi

    obama or romney , they are one in the same

    January 29, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. Blame Bush

    Really sorry to hear about the little girl being sick and wish her a full and speedy recovery.

    The rest of the story has me seeing red ... the DUGGARS .... are you kidding me. Those clowns are the poster child of the Quiverfull movement, a fundie whack job bunch who want their zealot followers to have massive families so they can gain enough votes, someday, to run the country like a theocracy. Rick Santorum is just a loon, pure and simple.

    January 29, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  6. Cutty

    Here's one Democrat who is holding this child and her family in his thoughts and prayers. Others, please don't be ugly on the basis of partisanship or your feelings about religion or whatever. It's child we're talking about.

    January 29, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. mr.knowitall

    As a father myself, i hope and pray for the Santorum family and wish a speedy recovery for Bella. Kids come first.....Always

    January 29, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  8. ARALE NORIMAKI

    Rick Santorum is the anti-gay, anti-abortion guy who is running on these social issues. Never mind health reform or jobs. Or anything important or non-discriminatory, for that matter.
.

    January 29, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  9. Kate

    The duggars disgust me – just because you can breed, doesn't mean you have to. That's one of the differences between human beings and animals.

    January 29, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  10. Thomas

    "My dad today is exercising his most important role, which is being a dad," Elizabeth Santorum said told the crowd of roughly 250 people.

    Thats good , he should do that , go home be a Father , lead by example . Stop telling others how to live !

    January 29, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. brian

    Santorum's younger daughter isn't going to "get better." She's going to die. Rather than sustaining her life, they are merely prolonging her death. As a child with trisomy 18, she is existing and suffering but certainly not living...

    January 29, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. Bill in Florida

    "...Elizabeth Santorum said told the crowd of roughly 250 people."

    Yeehaw! It is was an Obama event, he would have attracted at least 1000% more people. Santorum doesn't have a chance in hell of being elected, thank God.

    January 29, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. Willie Floyd

    I hope and pray his daughter has a complete recovery. As a mother of 2 I understand the suffering a parent goes through when a child is ill.

    January 29, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  14. Jan

    I hope and pray that Santorum's daughter recovers as well. No child or family should have to suffer through such pain. But what neither the Santorums nor the Duggars seem to realize is that they have greatly increased the risk of having a child with a life-threatening illness and to have miscarriages by continuing to have children until the mothers are well into their 40's. There are consequences for not using birth control when you are too old to bear children, and sadly, both of these families have borne some of those consequences. It's odd to me that two families who are so dead-set against abortion even in cases of incest or rape have no interest in adopting a child who desperately needs a family.

    January 29, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I have to say that Santorum gives being a parent a good name in this instance because he goes to be with a child when they are ill. I don't agree with his political and social stances, but this shows something I can agree with.

    January 29, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I guess Josh thinks it's OK to abort gays and lesbians.

    January 29, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  17. Laverne

    Oh boy, here we go.....guess the Duggars are lining up a new gig just in case mom is finally done having kids!

    January 29, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  18. Larry L

    Nothing is sadder than a sick child and certainly this baby is getting all of the love, support and quality healthcare possible. They appear to have a strong family. We should think about all of the children in America who don't have access to quality healthcare. No nation on earth delivers good health care to all of it's people without a strong federal healthcare system. Republicans want to keep healthcare in the hands of corporations and with the spiraling costs our old folks, middle-class and poor will very soon be without an option. You can bad-mouth President Obama's plan... but what do the Republicans really offer? Trust the corporations?

    January 29, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  19. LouAz

    What kind of parents are these to let their 3 year old develope pneumonia ? Do they live in some homeless shelter ?
    I don't want this Father (?) responsible for my "health".

    January 29, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  20. Lori in CO

    I'm not a Santorum fan, not a republican for that matter, but I do hope his daughter gets better!

    January 29, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    "Josh Duggar ...was quite pointed in his criticisms of Santorum's GOP opponents, laying into Mitt Romney for allowing abortions to be covered under his Massachusetts health care reform."

    Rick Santorum's wife had an abortion, when the choice came down to continuing the pregnancy and dying, leaving her 4 children motherless, and having the abortion. Where's Duggar's criticism of Mrs. Santorum?

    If you think my post is in poor taste, then I say the whole Republican obsession with other people's private lives is the poorest of taste – especially since Republicans are so given to hypocrisy.

    January 29, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  22. Frankie

    Now if he can just get Octomom's backing, he'll have sold me on why over-population is a good thing. *Holds up sarcasm sign for the humor-impaired.*

    January 29, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  23. Greg

    Speaking as a long time conservative voter, Mr.Duggar and Mr.Santorum do NOT represent the conservative values that I hold dear. In fact, Mr.Duggar's comments about homosexuals are deeply offensive. Saying that we should ostracize and alienate a group of people because you disagree with their lifestyle is NOT a conservative value. It's not a value at all, it's a deficiency of reason. It shows a fundamental lack of compassion and decency. The core conservative value I hold most dear is that a persons rights end where they infringe on another's. Homosexuality does NOT affect your rights, you have no justification for persecuting them or infringing on their rights. I still don't support Romney, but I would NEVER consider voting for someone who believes their bigotry has a legitimate place in government.

    January 29, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  24. GaryB

    Am I the only person who sees a potential crossover between the Duggars "19 Kids and Counting" show and one of those "hoarders" or "my strange addiction" shows?

    January 30, 2012 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  25. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    This guy is broke , hiding behind his kid and taking Koch Bros orders to get out of Romney's way.

    January 30, 2012 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
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