SANTORUM: 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. 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.
You know, I grew up in a home where my mom and dad both worked. This was back in the ’50s and ’60s, and — which was very unusual. My mom actually made more money than my dad. So I grew up in a home where that was something that — that was a given, women in the workplace, and something that I obviously accepted.
But 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: 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?
SANTORUM: Yeah, I have no problem — I don’t know — that’s a new quote for me. 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.
Stephanopoulos is getting at a potential problem for Santorum: His sincerely-held and clearly expressed views on women, family and workplace equality that appealed to social conservatives may now be off-putting in the context of a presidential campaign.
Santorum has been running a shoe-string budget with few advisers. That means he’s had relatively few aides, and I am nearly certain, no one to do the most critical “oppo” research there is, namely research on the candidate himself.
Santorum will have to deal with the words he wrote, and, if his views have evolved, he should say so quickly and definitively. The issue is potentially critical because it goes to his electability and because it makes a positive — his strong social conservative stances — into a negative. It’s time for him, or someone on the campaign, to go back and read the book and figure out what he can live with and what he can’t. He can’t afford to lose women voters as he heads into critical races in Michigan, Arizona and the Super Tuesday states.