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Inside Politics: Santorum’s daughter improving

- - 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

STATE

Administration 'outraged' by Syrian attack on refugees

The Obama administration is expressing outrage that Syrian troops fired into a refugee camp in neighboring Turkey. It says the cross-border attack coupled with incidents elsewhere bodes ill for a U.N.-brokered plan to end the violence.

One day ahead of a deadline for Syrian forces to withdraw from cities, the State Department said Monday that instead of abating, the situation had gotten worse. It said the Syrian government appeared to have little commitment to the plan that was negotiated by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan.

Earlier Monday, Syrian forces wounded at least five people in the camp in Turkey. The U.N. estimates some 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011.

GSA

Eighth employee placed on leave in Vegas scandal

The General Services Administration has placed an eighth employee on administrative leave after a scandal involving an $823,000 conference in 2010 at a luxury resort in Las Vegas.

The nation's landlord for federal buildings, the GSA took the action Monday as three congressional committees geared up for hearings beginning next week.

The latest official placed on leave was David Foley, deputy commissioner of the Public Buildings Service. He appears in a video giving an award to an employee who — in the same video — did a rap song bragging about the lavish spending.

The GSA said putting the employee on leave was part of its continuing review of events surrounding the October 2010 conference.

MAINE

King critical of GOP in Senate campaign

BRUNSWICK — The former governor of Maine, Angus King, is keeping people guessing whether he would side with Democrats or Republicans as a U.S. senator.

Mr. King is running as an independent to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Olympia J. Snowe. Yet he calls the GOP budget plan a "disaster" and the party's position on women's health a "mistake." He's also supporting President Obama's re-election.

Still, Mr. King isn't saying which party he'd side with if he were in the Senate. He tells the Associated Press that "I want to keep 'em guessing."

Mr. King formally opened his state headquarters Monday in Brunswick.

He's promising that Maine voters, not partisan politics, would guide his decisions on Capitol Hill.

From wire dispatches and staff reports