February 10th, 2012
03:46 PM ET
3 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. Nothing new here

    Yes, women should be barefoot and pregnant...
    And gays should go back in the closet....
    Yes, yes, Santorum. Now go back to living in your little fantasy world.

    February 10, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Woman In California

    What would Rick possibly know about the military?

    February 10, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Valentina

    With his position on this issue Santorum will alienate a lot of women, myself including. I cannot vote for a President who deems women as weaklings. Sorry, Santorum has NO CHANCE of winning in general election – a vote for Santorum equals four more years of Obama. Please someone get Santorum off the stage before it's too late.

    February 10, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  4. Steve, New York City

    Wow -what's next from this guy? Will he try to repeal the amendment, giving women the right to vote?

    Maybe he's just like many in Washington who know that voting is kind of a joke anyway, because powerful lobbyists determine who gets elected. The Supreme Court's 2010 decision on Super PACs totally RUINED what little credibility Washington had left.

    February 10, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  5. lol rofl

    "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," WTF man? does anyone that speaks english want to translate that for me?

    February 10, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. lol rofl

    "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," hahahahahahahahahahahaha what is he trying to say?

    February 10, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. Indy

    Santorums comments against women will go over about as good as a loud fart in Church

    February 10, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. Timmy

    With Santorum's years of military experience he is certainly an expert on this matter....Oh wait....

    February 10, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. keithc

    this guy has obviously never been on a farm during hay season, probably never been on a farm period, with comments about women not being able to keep up with men.

    February 10, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. DIANA

    Oh my goodness, as a woman I feel faint for the comments Mr. Santorum suggested, just thinking of the difference in physical capability – such talk for a delicate woman to hear. Us weak women would get too emotional and can't handle the tough decisions that the menfolk have to deal with all of the time. Take away my access to birth control and rights, I don't know how to handle such tough decisions.

    Mr. Santorum, I bet most women could beat you in an arm wrestling challenge without breaking a sweat.

    February 10, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Larry in Houston

    @Indy – I don't know about that – I've heard kids in church do that – and it's like : everybody LOOKS – know what I mean ?

    February 10, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. AZ Woman

    So, wait, let me understand this. As a woman, I can raise a child, sometimes as a single parent, I can work a 40+ hour job, take care of my house and all in it, but I am TOO emotional to pick up arms and defend our country? Wow...

    February 10, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. Independent Voters

    Santorum knew what he was saying about women in the military. He always changes his story.

    February 10, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. Laverne

    The more Santorum talks the more women will jump ship in droves to Obama. This guy is outrageous and will be outnumberd!

    February 10, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. Charles

    What an idiot. I served with plenty of women during my tours in the Middle East and they performed just as well as anyone else. There was no coddling or special treatment or consideration on missions. Women are not a threat to mission accomplishment, they are a part of it just like men are.

    February 10, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. The Lion that Roared

    What a chauvinistic, patronizing, selfish, controlling and arrogant attitude. This is not surprising coming from the self-anointed fool.

    February 10, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. mk1

    His ideal situation for women is the old barefoot and pregnant. I would think that women would be incensed by the attitudes of these men and how they continually want to control women's lives in every way. Now, no to combat, like Santorum had the cajones to join the military and he is an expert. This man is truly scary and a real threat to America and all we hold dear.

    February 10, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. vic , nashville ,tn

    More than 100 American female service members have sacrifice their life in Iraq,

    Rick Santorum voted for Iraq war

    How many women gave speech in CPAC , How many men gave speech in CPAC

    Just do the math where GOP stands on women rights

    No equal right that is sure

    February 10, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. Larry in Houston

    I honestly hate to say this – but this guy is an embarrassment to us Real Catholics. I mean, I don't sit at the front of the first few pews – as a matter of fact, I only go at Christmas & Easter – but he's still an embarrassment to us.

    February 10, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Dave

    Gosh, Rick...maybe you ought to fire all the women in your political campaign organization at the national, state and local level so that the men in your organization don't get distracted by activities "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."

    I think Rick would love to see a form of Christian "sharia law" toward American women.

    February 10, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. Robert

    loosen. your. sweatervest.

    Honestly, the women of our armed forces are TOUGH. Maybe a group of those ladies would visit the good senator and let him know how they feel?

    February 10, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    All I know is this, if one of those disgusting "alien" creatures comes to Earth, I want Sigourney Weaver to go after it.

    February 10, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. mk1

    Talk about the Christian taliban, the leader is right here. He would like to go back to the good old days with women barefoot and pregnant as his ideal. When will women realize the Republican party wants to dominate them into submission. Soon Catholic women will go back to covering their heads in church as they had to back 50 years ago or so. As for combat, like Santorum has any credibility in this subject, not having had the cajones to serve himself? Yet he wants to deny women equal rights. Make no mistake either, if any of these idiots becomes president we will be at war within six months, mark my words. Also, none of their relatives of offspring will be serving, they will gladly let others do the fighting. Cowards and very bad for America.

    February 10, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    Well, with respect to Mr. Santorum, his wife is a nurse and trained to save lives, something Mr. Santorum admitted she did whe she saved their daughter Bella from dying while he just stared. His role was summed up in his own explanation to his older daughter: " I'm a politician, I talk", after his older daughter noted he did nothing. That explains Mr. Santorum and the conservative movement: do nothing, or better still, let someone else do the work, then denigrate them and belittle them afterwards.

    February 10, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. Independent in NC

    Just what we need someone that still lives in the 50's. Just because Santorum who prefer his wife to a stay at home mom does not mean all men feel that way. I never served in the military but I was a Police Officer for 24 years. We get the same training and women can definitely hold their own in any situation.
    When you need help it doesn't matter who has your back because we are all the same with the same training.

    February 10, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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