February 10th, 2012
03:46 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum explains opposition to women in combat

(CNN) - Rick Santorum reiterated his opposition Friday to women serving in combat roles in the U.S. military, saying female troops have reduced physical capacities and would distract men from their assigned duties.

"If you're out there, for example, in a group, or just two people, and some people, because of women, have, as you know with respect to physical capabilities, they don't have the same requirements that men do in the military, and may be in a position if someone is injured, has to be brought back," Santorum said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." The full interview will air Friday at 4 p.m. ET.

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"The other example is the emotions of men, dealing with women in combat, and having men not focusing potentially on the mission but on the natural instinct to protect someone that's a female," Santorum added.

The Pentagon announced Thursday it would begin placing female troops closer to the front lines of combat. Under a 1994 policy, women are restricted from formally serving in small ground units directly involved in combat; however, many military positions-such as military police or medics-place women in harm's way.

On Thursday, Santorum responded to a question from CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on the role of women in the military, saying, "I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved."

Many questioned what the former Pennsylvania senator and GOP presidential candidate meant by "emotions," though he later clarified he was speaking about the emotional impact on men serving alongside women in the military.

On Friday, Santorum pointed to the Israeli army, which assigns women many non-combat roles, as a good example of females serving effectively in a military. The Israeli army also allows openly gay and lesbian troops, but Santorum said he did not support that kind of provision in America.

"I laid out the rationale Israelis used, because they in fact do have a lot more utilization of different people in their military," Santorum said. "But they have drawn the line here because that potentially undermines the mission that needs to be accomplished."

Responding to rival Mitt Romney's recent attacks on his record of spending in Congress, Santorum said it was a last-ditch attempt to affect voters' thinking.

"Well that's sort of the new tactic," Santorum said. "I'm sure they poll tested this one, figured out how to go after Rick Santorum, because he's obviously a very strong conservative so they can't really attack from right. So we have to use another tool to tear him down. Maybe experience in the job you're actually running for would be a good place to go."

Looking forward, Santorum said he was planning a nationwide campaign, even hoping to fare well in Saturday's Maine caucuses.

"We're up there, made a couple visits to Maine very early in the year, we're working hard up there," Santorum said. "We've got a great team of volunteers helping us. Obviously that's not my backyard, as we saw from the results in New Hampshire, but I think we might do better than expected."

Also see:

Santorum says opposition to contraception rule doesn't restrict women's rights


Romney meets privately with conservative leaders at CPAC

As Santorum and Romney battle, Paul slams both as liberal

Who's the biggest earmarker of them all?

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Santorum's little girl Bella fights for her life everyday because she's strong willed and courageous and the nerve of this man degrading women is disgusting.

    February 10, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Have you ever worn our uniform Ayatollah Santorum? Then shut the heck up. You must have never seen G.I. Jane.

    February 10, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. CBR

    Good grief! What is he trying to say? Women are already in the military in command positions and it is successful. When women are in combat gear I am sure that sex is not on their minds!

    February 10, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. AZ Woman

    and for all of you so called "religious" folks out there...I only have one thing to say Joan D'Arc. For the non-literary...Joan of Arc.

    February 10, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. Loren, Keene NH

    Rick knew what he was saying. He was saying that woman should stay home and cook and clean and have lots of babies...leave the work for the menfolk....

    Go Mitt!!! At least when you mentioned the very poor it was taken out of context. You mentioned they have a safety net and they do, Welfare, food stamps, Obamacare!!!! Obama!!!!!....I hope you can make the very poor into the middle class. At least try okay!!! Come on AZ and MI, OH and PA vote Mitt!

    February 10, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. vic , nashville ,tn

    @Truth and Nothing But the Truth
    “7-10 days a month women are either severely reduced with regards to physical activity”

    That comment is ridiculous

    February 10, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. dana

    I want women on the front line if they want to but what I want is to put them in their own squads of all women. End of problems. If I was wounded I'd rather have a 140 man try to pull me to safety rather than a 140 lb straight woman as the muscle make-up of a man is completely different than a womans face make-up. Sorry ladies.

    February 10, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. Berni

    I am appalled at the comment about the weakness of women! All women do not fall in that catagory! Santorum surely that shows his prejudice against women and equality with this comment! Women are discriminated against all the time in the workplace – now a candidate for presidents says it . . . shame on you Rick!

    February 10, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Sorensen

    Sanatoriun does not like intelligent women very much. And he means, what he says. To bad he is a total nutcase.

    February 10, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. KC

    Rick, Rick, Rick. Women In The Military, Gays, Abortion, Contraception...and the list goes on. All these things are part of our civil right and all these things should be legal and protected. Then each and every individual has the freedom to make their own choice. If you believe in abortion and find yourself in the position that you should need one, then have it. If you don't believe in abortion and find yourself in the position of being pregnant, then carry on through the term. If you don't believe in gay marriage, then don't marry someone of the same sex. If you do believe in gay marriage and you are gay and want to get married, then do so. If you believe in contraception then use it, if you don't, then don't use it. If you are female and want to serve your country in the armed forces, then by all means do so, if not, then don't. How hard is this to comprehend Rick? It is all about the freedom of choice that each and every individual is guaranteed, not about promising and campaigning upon making laws that will take choices away from targeted groups. Instead of being a divided American on the issues, let freedom ring and let individuals make their own choice(s) based upon their own beliefs. You Rick have absolutely no right to deny or prevent others from having their rights. Based upon your silly and backwards campaigning, I can safely say that you will NEVER be POTUS.

    February 10, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. Mikey

    @Truth – A person shows their true character when they start making personal attacks. It's also something people tend to do when they run out of rational arguments – that is, if they had any in the first place. What is it about insulting the intelligence of others? Got a chip on your shoulder in that regard?

    February 10, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Dan

    Stay home barefoot and pregnant! And get ready for that Burka! You've got to cover your face and hair!

    February 10, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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