Rick Santorum Clarifies Comments About Womens Emotions & Military Service

It isn’t only Rick Santorum’s stunning primary wins in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri and a rousing CPAC speech that have caught headlines this week. The former Pennsylvania senator also raised some eyebrows on Thursday when he said that he has “concerns about women in front-line combat.” His comments, which were taken to be sexist by some, were later clarified — but the controversy surrounding them is still swirling.

“I want to create every opportunity for women to be able to serve this country, and they do so in an amazing and wonderful way and they’re a great addition — and they have been for a long time — to the armed services of our country,” Santorum said in an interview with CNN’s John King on Thursday.

But what came next is what stunned critics.

“But I do have concerns about women in front-line combat, 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,” he said. “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, and I think that’s probably not in the best interest of men, women or the mission.”

Watch these comments, below:

Critics saw these statements as saying that women are too emotional to engage in front-line combat. But on Friday, Santorum attempted to clarify his statements, saying that they were more focused upon men and their emotions than they were women.

“When you have men and women together in combat, I think there’s — men have emotions when you see a woman in harm’s way,” he told NBC’s Ann Curry on “Today.” “I think it’s something that’s natural, that’s very much in our culture to be protective, and that was my concern.”

Santorum went on to decry the notion that he was saying women are too emotional.

“I’ve never raised that as a concern,” he proclaimed. “No, the issue is — and certainly one that has been talked about for a long, long time — is how men would react to seeing women in harm’s way, or potentially being injured or in a vulnerable position, and not being concerned about accomplishing the mission.”

Watch him make these clarifications, below:

In an interview with ABC News, he also claimed that he wasn’t slamming women.

“I was talking about men’s emotional issues; not women,” he said. “I mean, there’s a lot of issues. That’s just one of them.”

Here’s the ABC interview:

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Santorum also mentioned women’s physical strength in his original arguments on Thursday against their serving in increased roles on the front lines. His arguments, though, focused mainly on the lack of transportation assistance women could give, due to less strength, to injured men — something that didn’t ignite critics’ interest as much as his “emotion” comments did.