Santorum on Women in Combat: Let Me Clarify

It's men's emotions that concern him

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 10, 2012 7:31 AM CST | Updated Feb 10, 2012 9:23 AM CST

(Newser) – Rick Santorum isn't on board with the Pentagon's decision to formally open up some combat roles to women, he told CNN's John King last night—but it's not because he thinks women are too emotional, as it originally seemed. Putting women in the front lines "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," Santorum said in his original comments last night. "It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat."

But he clarified this morning, when asked about the statement on Today, explaining that his actual concern has nothing to do with women's emotions. Rather, "I think men have the emotions when you see a woman in harm’s way," he said, and that "natural inclination to not focus on the mission but to try to be in a position where you might want to protect someone" could compromise the mission. Writing for the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin called yesterday's quote Santorum's first gaffe of the campaign. (Of course, it hasn't been all smooth sailing; yesterday Politico laid out the candidate's 10 biggest problems.)

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at Oral Roberts University, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a rally, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, in Oklahoma City.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Rick Santorum clarifies his comments on women in combat. Relevant segment begins around 3:10.   (msnbc)
Rick Santorum's original comments, featured on CNN's "John King USA."   (bartymax711)

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