Santorum Child’s Illness Prompts Romney to Pull Attack Ad

April 10 (Bloomberg) -- Bloomberg's Peter Cook reports that Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has an attack ad set to air in Pennsylvania targeting Rick Santorum. The $2.9 million ad buy is a spot focusing on Santorum’s “historically embarrassing” loss in his 2006 bid for a third U.S. Senate term in Pennsylvania. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "In The Loop." (Source: Bloomberg)

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign pulled an attack ad set to air in Pennsylvania targeting Rick Santorum, responding to the Republican rival’s decision to suspend politicking after the hospitalization of his daughter.

“Stations will comply with this request as soon as they are technically able,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

The campaign asked stations in Pennsylvania to substitute a pro-Romney commercial praising his record as former governor of Massachusetts for the negative spot.

The $2.9 million ad buy was set to start yesterday, with a spot focusing on Santorum’s “historically embarrassing” loss in his 2006 bid for a third U.S. Senate term in Pennsylvania. In a midterm election in which Republicans lost control of both chambers of Congress, Santorum was defeated by 18 percentage points by Democrat Robert Casey.

“We fired him as senator, why promote him to president?” a narrator in the Romney-sponsored ad asks.

Santorum is pushing to regain momentum from front-runner Romney in the Republican presidential nomination battle.

While Santorum has vowed to remain a candidate into May, campaign aides have said winning Pennsylvania’s April 24 primary is crucial to his political survival. Polls show a close race, and losing his home state would intensify pressure on Santorum to end his candidacy.

Delegate Count

Romney tops the race for delegates with 658, followed by Santorum with 281, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 135 and Representative Ron Paul of Texas with 51, according to a tally by the Associated Press. It takes 1,144 delegates to clinch the GOP nomination for president. Romney is on pace to reach the threshold in June, according to AP projections.

Santorum took several days off from the campaign trail after announcing on April 6 that his three-year-old daughter, Bella, was hospitalized. She suffers from a rare genetic disorder known as Trisomy 18, and her survival has defied the odds for those afflicted with the condition.

Romney also took a break from campaigning, spending the weekend celebrating the Easter holiday with his family.

Both men plan to hold events today, with Romney campaigning in Delaware and Santorum scheduled to participate in a religious forum with Christian broadcaster James Dobson in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lerer in Washington at llerer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net

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