(Photo: Reuters/Joe Skipper)
Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum canceled all his Sunday interviews and campaign events after his daughter Bella was hospitalized Saturday night. Several political and media figures have expressed their prayers and support for the Santorums.
"Thank you, Rick and Karen Santorum, for living the Christ-like example of sacrifice and right priorities. Nothing is more precious or important than the life of an innocent child. Our prayers are with Bella, a perfect child in an imperfect world," Sarah Palin wrote on her Facebook page.
"God bless the beautiful Santorum family," Palin continued, with the message signed, "Sarah and Todd Palin and family."
Palin was formerly the governor of Alaska and the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008. She has not officially endorsed anyone in the race, but said before the South Carolina primary that she would have voted for Newt Gingrich if she were a resident of South Carolina.
Mitt Romney, one of Santorum's rivals in the presidential race, also said that he and his wife, Ann, were praying for the Santorums.
"Ann and I send prayers and best wishes for Bella's good health to Rick and Karen Santorum and their entire family," Mitt Romney tweeted.
Hogan Gidley, national communications director for the Santorum campaign, posted a message to the campaign's website saying, "Rick and his wife Karen are admitting their daughter Bella to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia this evening. The campaign will cancel Rick's upcoming Sunday morning Florida campaign schedule. However, Rick intends to return to Florida and resume the campaign schedule as soon as is possible."
According to Rosie Gray of Buzzfeed, however, Santorum is unlikely to return to Florida before Tuesday's primary and will head to Missouri as soon as possible. Gray's source also indicated that Bella's condition has deteriorated for the last three days.
Santorum is in third place in Florida in recent polls behind Romney and Newt Gingrich. Since Florida is a winner-take-all system, a third place finish would get Santorum none of the state's 50 delegates.
Three-year old Bella has Trisomy 18, a rare genetic disorder, and was hospitalized for pneumonia. Half of babies born with Trisomy 18 do not survive their first week of life. The few who survive until their teenage years usually have serious medical and developmental problems, according to the National Institutes of Health.
At a November campaign event in Iowa, Santorum had expressed regret, while holding back tears, that he had initially not loved Bella as much as his other children because he expected her to die soon.
Santorum had two campaign stops scheduled Sunday in Florida, Punta Gorda and Sarasota, and an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." Santorum's oldest daughter and members of the Duggar family will speak on Santorum's behalf at the campaign events.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Santorum and his family this morning," said "Meet the Press" host David Gregory.
Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who supports Newt Gingrich, also expressed support for the Santorums on the same show.
"Rick's been a gallant warrior. That family is to be greatly commended for the way they've handled the illness of their small child. We hope for the best," Thompson said.