Huffpost Politics

Rick Santorum: Women In Combat Could Create 'Compromising Situation' Because Of 'Emotions' (VIDEO) [UPDATED]

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Updated below:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum expressed skepticism on Thursday about a recent decision by the Pentagon to open up more military roles for women on the front lines, suggesting their "emotions" could create a "compromising situation" if they were thrown into combat.

Asked by CNN's John King if the move, "perhaps opening the door to a broader role for women in combat," was an idea he'd support as president, Santorum responded:

"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."

Then came the big "but."

"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," Santorum continued. "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."

(Video above, flagged by The Atlantic)

Santorum has frequently been vocal about his personal beliefs on the dynamic of soldiers in the military. He opposed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," suggesting that openly gay soldiers would upset the order in barracks because they would be in "close quarters" with their comrades.

The new Pentagon guidelines, which now go to Congress, "still ban women from serving as infantry, armor and special operations forces, which are considered the most dangerous combat jobs," the Associated Press reports. Instead, they'll be allowed to serve in existing roles such as medics, military police, helicopter pilots and intelligence officers at the battalion level, meaning their duties could bring them much closer to combat. Some were quick to note that this had already been taking place in some military operations.

If lawmakers don't act to counter the change, the new measures will be adopted into official Pentagon policy.

UPDATE:

Santorum clarified his comments in an interview Friday morning on NBC's "Today":

"[I meant] exactly what I said," he maintained. "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. I think it's something that's natural, that's very much in our culture to be protective, and that was my concern."

Santorum then rejected a suggestion by NBC's Ann Curry that some had interpreted his original remarks to be a commentary on
"women being emotional."

"I've never raised that as a concern. 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."

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