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. whorutellin

    I hate to say it but ... i agree with a repub..its hard to work with women and not look at their butt sometimes.. and they are extremely more emotional than men.. that last statement is just a biological fact!!! lol

    February 10, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. Bobby Nakka

    Seriously the statement Santorum made was saying "women are weaklings"? Where did we get that from? So we can't say women are physically not on the same level as men?

    Maybe all women's groups should rally to include women in the NFL and if that experiment succeeds then we go to the military argument.

    February 10, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    If a woman can pass the same combat training a guy does, WITHOUT being given reduced strength tests, then let them jump right into the battle. I personanlly don't think I know any women that can go for long marches with 80lbs strapped to their backs. And for 7-10 days a month women are either severely reduced with regards to physical activity. Will the enemy grant them special waivers to stay home??? Just askin'...

    February 10, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. Mitt's grass is green because it's cash.

    You know, a man with a woman, all alone in a foxhole, things could happen and the man can't be held responsible for his urges. - This guy clearly doesn't know that women have the right to vote, the way he keeps offending us.

    February 10, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. Shay

    Whoa! Conservatives have turned over a heck of a lot of rocks to find the likes of Santorum, Bachmann, Palin, and Cain. And even more so to bring back such critters as the Newt.

    February 10, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    What a jerk! If he thinks women, because of their "emotions," would be a liability, then how does he explain the effectiveness of Israeli military women who are fighting and serving?

    February 10, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    It's called training, bud, and I'm guessing any woman currently serving in our military could kick Ricky fanny in two seconds.

    February 10, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. Joi Gibson

    This man seems to think women just cannot do anything but get pregnant. Someone needs to explain to him that woman are quite capable of taking care of themselves. I suppose he thinks women should not be police officers and firefighters either.

    February 10, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  9. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    @ Truth...I bet I know a couple of women that could take somebody like you down in a FLASH. And no they're NOT lesbians nor transgender either. But to be honest there is a part of me that does NOT like to see women in combat. Women don't start the wars, men do so at least in the foxhole men should fight them. Just as Mitt Romney about his sons' services....oops my bad!

    February 10, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. AZ Woman

    @Truth. 7 to 10 days?! Are you kidding me?!?! Normal is 5, and there are things to take care of it. Besides, we are at our most combative during those days. As any husband or boyfriend...

    February 10, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Truth asked:

    And for 7-10 days a month women are either severely reduced with regards to physical activity. Will the enemy grant them special waivers to stay home??? Just askin'...
    -------------
    Actually, if the enemy had any sense, I think they should run for the hills during that week. That is not a good time to get a woman angry with you.

    February 10, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Boo-Yah

    If the women are in the military... they are TOUGH! What a bozo. PLEASE, America! This man just doesn't get it. What century does he think he's in? He is so out of touch with reality, we CANNOT let him any where near the Whitehouse.

    February 10, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Thomas

    Rick lives in a time warp ,

    Rick Santorum / Lawrence Welk
    2012

    February 10, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. durundal

    hahaha its like watching one of those old crappy sitcoms like leave it to beaver. This guy really is a clueless goober!

    February 10, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Rudy NYC - Actually, if the enemy had any sense, I think they should run for the hills during that week. That is not a good time to get a woman angry with you.
    ============================================================================================
    Unless she's incapacitated with migraine headaches from blood loss. In which case, people may pay for it with their lives and it will not be the enemy.

    February 10, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    "And for 7-10 days a month women are either severely reduced with regards to physical activity."

    Good God. This is the same argument used against the Women Airforce Service Pilots in WWII. THEY proved what a foolish argument it was then. And you're dregging it up 65+ years later?

    February 10, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    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.
    ============================================================================================
    As would any INTELLIGENT person who knows there is a more qualified medically trained person there to help. YOU on the other hand would suggest he throw her aside and take control, resulting in his daughters death. You are indeed either sick or insane. Probably BOTH.

    February 10, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. Thinks2010

    For all of history there have been women in combat zones. They just haven't been armed or in uniform. Now they are moving closer to the opportunity to be both.

    February 10, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    I am sure with all of his military experience, he... huh? What's that? He has no military experience either? Oh, well that means that he really should keep his mouth shut on women's abilities unless he is willing to compete against them in the standard readiness tests that all women in the USMC must pass to be considered "fit for duty". If he can beat them (which I doubt he can) then he can say they are not fit for duty.

    February 10, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. K Denver

    Truth-

    You have like, no friends, huh?

    February 10, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Truth wrote:

    Unless she's incapacitated with migraine headaches from blood loss. In which case, people may pay for it with their lives and it will not be the enemy.
    -----------------
    Don't you know how to laugh? I do.

    February 10, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    @Truth – If one of those "alien" creatures ever came to the Earth, who would you want to go after it? Rambo or Ridley?

    February 10, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  23. Real Patriot

    WOW-someone get this guy out of the 1950's......

    February 10, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    @ truth, you really are home-schooled, aren't you? I said nothing of the kind. Re-read it and try to comment WITHOUT being a condescending snarky stereotype of a conservative.

    February 10, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. rockysfan

    Oh yeah, because it's a womens' problem that men can't get the minds off sex and keep it in their pants. Gee Santorum, you kind of sound like the Islamists that blame women for everything. If you truly think that little of women, you don't deserve to be elected president of half the citizens in this country!

    February 10, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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