Rick Santorum Keeps Stepping in it With Women

The new GOP frontrunner gets provocative on prenatal testing, military women and more

Rick Santorum has found his footing as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. He's gaining attention by the day, which is borne out by recent polls that put him in a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney, the "inevitable" GOP challenger to President Barack Obama. And with so many vocal Republicans steering the 'anyone by Romney' bandwagon, the former senator from Pennsylvania has gained serious national momentum.

While Santorum is more comfortable in his political skin now when he's in front of the camera than just a few weeks ago, some of the things coming out of his mouth have pundits and supporters alike scratching their heads. Here are some of Santorum's recent memorable (or questionable?) moments to help you decide -- is Santorum's current fire-in-the-belly attitude and willingness to show his super conservative views a positive or a negative as he heads toward Super Tuesday?

1. He meant the environment, not Islam. 
When Santorum's press secretary recently appeared on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports to talk about the candidate's views on the environment, she criticized the President's environmental positions, saying they were established in connection with his "radical Islamic policies." That spokesperson, Alice Stewart, later said she misspoke, but take a watch and decide for yourself whether it was an unintended flub or whether, in light of past Santorum comments questioning the President's religion, she intended for the so-called slip up to happen, since she was already talking about Obama's "phony theology," a theme that her boss likes to raise at campaign stops.

2. Ladies in the military. 
Santorum believes the recent Pentagon decision to give women soldiers an increased combat role is a bad one because the inevitable increased "emotions" that would result between men and women could jeopardize military missions.  Interestingly, women weren't the only ones to take exception to this stereotypically outdated thought. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell -- whose daughter is in the military -- expressed his concerns about the negative inferences on women in the military he was afraid people would draw from Santorum's statement.

3. Public education is bad. 
Suggesting that parents should be in charge of their children's education, Santorum told a recent crowd that public schools are "factories" that don't serve our children well and that more kids should be homeschooled. Now, I know better than to wade into the whole home school vs. public school debate, but is it realistic to believe we can all return to a pre-industrial revolution era when children were taught at home because we had an agricultural based society?  This is a tough one for Santorum if he wants to sweep the upcoming Super Tuesday contests, since close to 90 percent of American children attend public schools, or as he likes to call them when he's making stump speeches, "government run schools." That's an interesting perspective from a man who, as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, took $100,000 state funds from a Pennsylvania public online charter school to educate his kids.

4. No more amniocentesis for you. 
That's Santorum's stand on what is a common prenatal test, at least if you expect your insurance to pay for it. Santorum claims that prenatal testing in general, and amniocentesis in particular, leads to increased abortions. When confronted on CBS News about that statement, Santorum held firm, even though he has yet to produce any statistics to support his broad-brush contention.

WATCH: Santorum's Stance on Prenatal Testing and Abortion: He "Kind of Has a Point"


5. Find an aspirin and call me in the morning.
 
Santorum Super political action committee funder Foster Friess says American ladies don't need insurance companies to pay for birth control. Just do it like they did in his day -- women just need to hold an aspirin in between their knees if they're thinking about getting intimate, and no pregnancy will follow!  Santorum says he doesn't know why people are still asking him about a bad joke made by a supporter. But Friess isn't just any supporter. He's the major financial backer of the Super PAC that's aligned with Santorum. And while the GOP hopeful might not have planted that bug in Friess' ear, Santorum has been open about his desire to ban the availability of contraception, even though the Supreme Court ruled decades ago that the right to obtain contraception is a constitutionally protected privacy right.

You can read more from iVillage iVote Editor and Correspondent Joanne Bamberger at her blog, PunditMom.  Joanne is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America.  Follow her on Twitter at @PunditMom.

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