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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

February 9, 2012 at 6:45 AM

“This is about something so much bigger than us”: A conversation on the campaign trail with Elizabeth and John Santorum, Rick Santorum’s two eldest children

Rick and Karen Santorum, photographed with their seven children. (Photo courtesy of www.ricksantorum.com)

SEATTLE — On the eve of the Colorado caucuses, the Rick Santorum campaign hosted a rally at the Cable Center in downtown Denver. David Domke, Lindsey Meeks, and I drove up from Colorado Springs for the event. As usual, I packed equipment so I could film the rally to share with UW Election Eye readers, which we did yesterday in our Colorado caucus recap story.

But the presidential hopeful wasn’t the only Santorum I captured on film that night.

Santorum’s two eldest children, Elizabeth, 20, and John, 19, joined their father in Colorado and took turns answering questions from the three of us about their father and life on the campaign trail. As Elizabeth said, they represent the “Santorum Seven.”

A popular Santorum campaign pamphlet shows a photograph of Rick and Karen Santorum with their seven children (right), from the oldest, Elizabeth, to Bella, the youngest at 3 years old. Bella suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 18, and was hospitalized with pneumonia while Santorum was campaigning in Florida. Santorum returned to Virginia to be with Bella until her condition stabilized and she was released from the hospital. Santorum often refers to Bella while stumping on the campaign trail, and voters have connected with the story of his youngest daughter.

The life of a politician is grueling, and no race is more intense than the one for the White House. The video below is a window in into a truth that is easy to miss amidst the political spectacle of modern campaigning: politicians are people.

David Domke and Lindsey Meeks contributed to this report.

Comments | Topics: Caucuses, Colorado, Election 2012

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