- (Reuters/Jason Cohn)
Rick Santorum took Monday off to be with his youngest daughter Bella, who was hospitalized late last week and is now expected to be released as early as late Monday. But looking ahead to the primary in Pennsylvania – his home state – later this month, Santorum has to make a hard decision of whether or not to continue in the race when front-runner Mitt Romney is gaining support on Santorum's own turf.
According to John Brabender, Santorum's long-time campaign strategist, Bella's health is improving and she is expected to be released Monday afternoon, pending doctor's approval. "Bella is doing very well," Brabender told The Wall Street Journal.
But when Santorum returns to the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, Romney has already taken the lead in his home state. The latest Public Policy Polling results in Pennsylvania show that Romney has a five-point lead over Santorum by a margin of 42 to 37 percent. Romney's recent large ad buy would have most likely extended his lead.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported over the weekend that the Romney campaign has bought almost $3 million worth of advertising in Pennsylvania alone.
However, to show respect for Santorum's family situation, the Romney campaign has pulled some attack ads aimed at the former Pennsylvania senator.
"We have done this out of deference to Senator Santorum's decision to suspend his campaign for personal family reasons," Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul said in a brief statement.
Romney's ad campaign in Pennsylvania was simple: to discredit Santorum in his backyard and deliver one final blow in an effort to leave Santorum with few, if any, options to wage a successful campaign.
Meanwhile, conservative Christian leaders such as Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission have suggested that Santorum consider dropping out of the GOP primary. In an interview with The Christian Post last week, Land touted Santorum's contribution to the conservative cause but could not see a viable path to the GOP nomination.
"I have not spoken to Rick about this issue, but as his friend, I would advise him to consider getting out of the race at this point," Land told The Christian Post last Thursday. "Rick is still a young man and has a bright future in 2016 and beyond."
"He has run a solid campaign the last six months and resurrected himself once again as a major political figure in our nation," continued Land. "This is the most important election in our nation since 1860 and we need time to vet and access the statements and beliefs of the two men who will be representing our country's two major parties."
Santorum's campaign ended March with just $1.2 million on hand, but Brabender said fundraising has continued at a constant pace. Brabender also says the fact that Romney has a larger ad buy is nothing new. "They outspend us in every state," he said. "That's not anything new to us."