- - Monday, April 9, 2012

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s hospitalized daughter could be released soon, his campaign said Monday.

Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley said 3-year-old Bella was doing much better and could be discharged from a Northern Virginia hospital by the end of the day.

“The family hopes to take her home from the hospital very soon,” he said.

Bella was hospitalized Friday as her father began a brief holiday break from campaigning. He did not campaign Monday so he could be with his daughter, who suffers from a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 18.

Mr. Santorum faces an uphill battle against front-runner Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The contest next turns to Mr. Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania, where both men plan to campaign heavily and where Mr. Romney is airing $2.9 million in TV ads against Mr. Santorum.

Mr. Gidley said Mr. Santorum’s campaign schedule Tuesday would depend on his daughter’s health, but that “we have a full day of events planned tomorrow, so he should be back on the campaign trail.”

In deference to Bella’s illness, Mr. Romney’s campaign pulled down a harsh ad that was running against the former senator in Pennsylvania. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Monday the campaign asked TV stations over the weekend to pull the ad and replace it with a positive, pro-Romney spot instead.

Mr. Romney is far ahead of Mr. Santorum in the race for delegates to the Republican National Convention and is the likely GOP nominee. Mr. Santorum has said he won’t drop out of the race, though he’s acknowledged he will have to win Pennsylvania if his campaign is to survive.

Bella was hospitalized in January with pneumonia and Mr. Santorum left the campaign trail, ahead of the Florida primary, to care for her. The campaign has not provided details of her latest hospitalization.

WHITE HOUSE

New federal early learning contest finalists announced

The Obama administration has announced that five states that were finalists in an earlier competition for millions in federal dollars to improve early learning programs will be able to compete for a new pot of money.

Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin are eligible for a share of $133 million in new “Race to the Top” funding. The winnings are intended to help build statewide systems that affect all early learning programs such as child care, Head Start centers, and public or private preschools.

Late last year, nine states won a collective $500 million for early learning programs. Thirty-five states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had applied.

The contest is administered by the Education and Health and Human Services departments

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