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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / 2012 Election

In This Race, Children are Everywhere

Many candidates have big families, resulting in some blood-loyal surrogates

Little Bella Santorum caught the attention of many following the Republican presidential contest with her illness and recovery, but she is not the only candidate offspring to make news in the Republican race. From Mitt Romney's sons to the Huntsman girls, children are a staple in this election cycle.

Not always willing participants on the political landscape - Chelsea Clinton during her father's presidency, for example - children of candidates seem to be participating more in campaigns this year, sometimes capturing media attention of their own.

The result is that many candidates have a group of surrogates who are blood loyal, well-armed with information and anecdotes, and are sometimes capable of speaking to a younger audience using a variety of media.

 

In the hours before Nevada's caucuses on Saturday, Newt Gingrich's two adult daughters and one of Mitt Romney's adult sons were all interviewed live on CNN. Indeed, Josh Romney fielded some tough questions from CNN's Candy Crowley, who asked if the Romney campaign had been too negative.

"I don't think so," Josh Romney said. "You look at how politics are played, it's a tough sport."

This year's race is also notable for the sheer number of candidate children involved.

Romney's five grown sons have gone on the stump for their father, and garnered some attention from the former Massachusetts governor's female supporters.

When Jon Huntsman was in the race, his three daughters caused quite a stir, tweeting sassy commentary on debate performances and responding to ads by rival candidates. They arguably had the best response to a Herman Cain ad that featured his campaign manager smoking. Rick Perry's son also took to Twitter in the final days of his father's candidacy, a venue that famous political daughter Meghan McCain has used to cultivate her own celebrity.

Indeed, the sheer size of some of the candidates' families has received attention, whether it's Rep. Michele Bachmann's five biological children and 23 foster children, or Rick Santorum's brood of seven.

In fact, when Bella Santorum, 3, was admitted to the hospital, and her father took a break from the campaign trail, it was his oldest daughter, Elizabeth, who took his place at a campaign rally in Florida. She told the crowd that he was "exercising his most important role, which is being a dad."

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