PHILADELPHIA, PA - Speaking from the hospital room where he said his ailing 3-year-old daughter is making a "miraculous turnaround," Rick Santorum said that he would resume his campaign on Monday with stops in western caucus states.
"She went through a very tough time the last 48 hours and this afternoon she made really a remarkable turn," Santorum told voters in Florida and Minnesota, via two tele-town halls Sunday night, of his daughter Isabella, who was rushed to the hospital the night before after developing pneumonia in both lungs.
Santorum said that Isabella, who also suffers from the genetic disorder Trisomy 18, was still in the intensive care unit and was not ready to be released home, but that doctors were encouraged by the improvements made over the past few hours.
"We've still got a long way to go here but she has without a doubt turned the corner and we are very, very grateful," he said.
Santorum had cleared his Sunday schedule in Florida to be with his daughter but will be back on the trail tomorrow afternoon with stops over the next two days in Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado and Nevada, all caucus states. He will not be back in Florida before its election on Tuesday, having cancelled an event in Boca Raton scheduled for that morning.
Instead, Santorum will hold a primary night party in Las Vegas, an indication the campaign has pulled its stakes from the Sunshine State where a recent NBC/Marist poll had Santorum in a very distant third place.
In fact, turnout at a Sunday afternoon event in Sarasota - at which Santorum's daughter Elizabeth filled in for her dad - served as an indicator to the campaign as to whether they would continue to stump in the state through Tuesday's primary. The rally, held in the same venue where Newt Gingrich drew more than 3,000 people, had a scant showing of fewer than 250.
Santorum also seemed to have already moved beyond Florida during the call with Minnesota voters in which he emphasized the importance of caucus-style contests to his campaign.
"We want the activists of the party, the people who make up the vast part of the Republican Party, to have a say in who our nominee is as opposed to a bunch of people who don't even identify themselves as Republicans picking our nominee," Santorum said, noting that only registered Republicans can participate in a caucus.
"I believe that a state should only allow Republicans to vote in a Republican primary. Why? Because it's the Republican nomination, not the independent nomination or the Democratic nomination."
Santorum refrained from making such a pro-caucus statement in Florida, which holds a primary, albeit a closed one in which only Republicans can vote.
"This is an election that's wide open; This race isn't going to be decided in Florida, it's not going to be decided for quite some time. But Florida can have a big say," he said to voters on the first call.
And while he didn't handicap his finish in Tuesday's primary, Santorum still predicted he would finish strong in the Sunshine State, thanks to an increase in donations which he said began after his victory in the Iowa caucus was confirmed.
"We're going to come out of Florida I think with a pretty good number, certainly dollars per votes we're going to run rings around the other candidates," Santorum said, referring to the amount of money candidates spend in a state divided by the vote percentage they receive.
A decent showing in Florida will allow him, he continued, to "come into states like Minnesota, Colorado and some of the other states that are having their caucuses and primaries and be in a much better position."
Santorum said he was hoping to "do very well" in Minnesota, adding "we're looking forward to getting up there tomorrow and spending a lot of time and trying to get folks in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes to join us."