Santorum Asked About Women in the Workplace on Meet the Press and This Week

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum made the rounds on this week’s Sunday morning news shows where despite his campaign’s messaging as a pro-Liberty candidate in tune with the needs of the poor and those unemployed from manufacturing jobs gone abroad, interviewers focused on the former Pennsylvania senator’s well-known positions on social issues. Both David Gregory of NBC and George Stephanopoulos of ABC pressed Santorum on his comments regarding female soldiers and passages in his book “It Takes a Family.”

During Sunday’s “Meet the Press”on NBC Gregory called into question Santorum’s perception of feminism, citing that what he has learned about the movement from his working wife, mother and sister, is respecting the choice of working or not working, not what he calls Santorum’s idea that “somehow the choice of working” undermines “the traditional family.” After Santorum described his own experience growing up in a family where his mother worked and made more money than his father, and went on to explain that the section of his book called into question was co-written by his wife in reference to her experience of not feeling affirmation from the feminist community after deciding to go from working as a lawyer to staying at home to raise their children, Gregory was still not satisfied.

The host’s next question has been criticized by some who say it insinuates an extremely strong claim that Santorum has discriminatory views towards women:

DAVID GREGORY: Let me ask you one more question about women.  If you are President of the United States, and women want to work in your administration. Do single women without children only need apply?  Are you going to respect the decision of women to come work for you if that’s the choice they make, or would they be somehow held by radical feminists?

RICK SANTORUM: Well, I think if you go back and look at the people who have worked for me you’d find single women, we have married women, you’ve got all sorts of folks. You know, those are decisions I affirm. If women want to come into the workforce, great.  If they don’t, that’s great.  You know, we’re going to look at the best-qualified people and there will be plenty of working moms who will be in our administration and be adding greatly to the conservative cause I believe in.

 

Mark Finkelstein of NewsBusters did not respond as cordially to Gregory’s line of questioning.

“On today’s Meet The Press, “moderator” David Gregory gave a good preview of how the MSM/Obama industrial complex will try to cariacture and demonize Rick Santorum should he become the Republican presidential candidate.”

[..]

“Consider that Gregory’s formulation of ‘only single women without children need apply’ is an echo of the prejudiced phraseology of the past, in which employers would advertise: ‘only [whites, Christians, etc.] need apply.’  So Gregory was seeking to associate Santorum with that sorry past.”

Santorum was met with equal tension on ABC’s “This Week.”

When host (and former top aide in the Clinton campaign and White House) George Stephanopoulos asked Santorum what he would say to those who think his comments on radical feminism alienate women and make him an easier candidate to beat in the general election, Santorum said that his remarks were in regards to affirming a woman’s choice to enter the workplace equally to the choice, as made by his wife, to give up her career to raise their kids.

“Well, that section of the book was co-written, if you want to be honest about it, by my wife, who is a nurse and a lawyer,” Santorum said. “And when she gave up that practice and she gave up, you know, nursing to raise a family, I mean, she felt very much that society was sort of — in many cases, looked down their nose at that decision.  And all I’ve said is — and in talking with my wife and others like her — who’ve given up their careers that they should be affirmed in their decision like everybody else and that these are choices, and they’re tough choices.”

Santorum went on to say “I think it’s important that women both outside the home and inside the home are affirmed for their choices they make, that they are, in fact, choices, and society, you know, treats them in a sense equally for whatever decision they make that’s best for them.”

Stephanopoulos next asked the candidate about a quote from his book (reported in the Washington Post Friday without page citation) which appeared to surprise Santorum.

“You say that now, but you also wrote in the book that radical feminists have been making the pitch that justice demands that men and women be given an equal opportunity to make it to the top in the workplace.  Isn’t that something that everyone should value?”

“Yeah, I have no problem — I don’t know — that’s a new quote for me,” a visually taken aback Santorum responded. “I don’t know what context that was given.  But the bottom line is that people should have equal opportunity to rise in the workforce.  And, again, if you read the entire section, I don’t think anyone will have a problem with the fact that what I was calling for — very clearly calling for is the treatment of an affirmation of whatever decision women decide to make.”

POLITICO notes that “It Takes a Family” was written in response to Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village” in the 1990s, and was not generally taken by women’s rights groups as an affirmation for women. Mediaite video of Santorum’s exchange with Stephanopoulos on “This Week.”