Rick Santorum's Treatment of Sick Daughter Shows He's No Phony

Rick Santorum Karen SantorumTo say it was a rough weekend for the Rick Santorum presidential campaign is putting it mildly. The former Pennsylvania Senator had to rush away from his busy politicking schedule to be at the hospital bedside of little Isabella "Bella" Santorum, his 3-year-old daughter who has battled with health complications since being born with Trisomy 18, a serious genetic condition. But if anything, it's Santorum's time away from the campaign that's helped his cause.

During the 36 hours the candidate spent with little Bella -- who is reportedly recovering nicely from her bout with pneumonia -- he finally allowed his 20-year-old daughter Elizabeth Santorum to take over as the public face of the campaign. Up on the podium, with her dad at home, the college student on sabbatical made one thing clear.

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Whatever his detractors may say about him, Rick Santorum is a candidate who walks the family values walk that he talks up so frequently. As Elizabeth told the crowd in Sarasota, Florida, her dad wasn't on the stage because he was "exercising his most important role, which is being a dad."

It's something his critics have challenged several times over in recent months, trying to crumble the foundation of his campaign. It would seem a smart strategy to dismantle the credibility of a guy who literally wrote the book on creating a family values-oriented society by attacking his own family values. And yet it's come off at best as silly, at worst as mean-spirited and cruel.

First they were arguing that a "good" father would stay home with Bella and cherish the short time her condition will grant her on this earth. More recently the candidate has faced controversy over the manner in which he and wife Karen grieved for the loss of son Gabriel, whose body they brought home before burial so his siblings could "meet" their brother.

The fact that I -- someone who would never vote for the man -- had nothing but compassion for him through both of those storms proves the fallacy of this line of attack. And with his two-part highly family-centric means to weathering this past weekend's storm, I'm hoping it's finally time to put it to bed and focus on the real issues of the presidential campaign.

Rick Santorum, the candidate, has made a lot of mistakes. But Rick Santorum, the dad, is doing everything just the way he should. He has my respect there. How about yours?

How do this weekend's events affect your feelings about Rick Santorum?

 

Image via CafeLindsay/Flickr

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