Rick Santorum Might Have a Woman Problem

What does GOP candidate tell his 20-, 13- and 3-year-old daughters about their futures?

If Rick Santorum wants women voters to support his presidential candidacy, he might want to stop talking about women. Soon. 

He’s clearly doing well with conservative Christian voters around the country, as his wins in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado show. But Santorum can’t win the big contest in November without women. And in light of some of his comments in the last week or so, even some Republican women are having a little problem with him.

A variety of his quotes have called his views on women into question, including whether women are emotionally capable of serving in the military, his comment in his book It Takes a Family, that “radical feminists” are undermining the family by suggesting that women can only be happy if they have jobs outside the home, his thought that birth control has nothing to do with women’s rights, and, of course, his musings last year that single mothers should get married so they’ll stop being Democrats and vote Republican. Not surprisingly, he’s backing away from some those remarks, but are these the ideas of a candidate who really wants to win the women’s vote in 2012.

It’s no surprise that Democratic women aren’t huge fans of the former Pennsylvania senator, but some Republican women are beginning to question whether they’re really all that into him as a candidate. At least one group has already started selling T-shirts emblazoned with the message, “Another Working Mother Against Rick Santorum.” But one of his daughters isn’t worried. Santorum’s 20-year-old daughter Elizabeth, a college student, said in a recent interview:

“My Dad has been a champion for women. He helped to get thousands of single moms back on their feet by reforming welfare in the '90s. In fighting for life in the abortion debates, he emphasized the value and dignity of every human life. In 2006, he authored and passed the Iran Freedom and Support Act, which was not only visionary as it foresaw the danger of a nuclear Iran, but it also provided support to the revolutionary movement in Iran which hoped to overthrow the government, one that is extremely oppressive towards women. On a more personal level, he has always encouraged me to reach my potential and has always supported my decisions in what I want to do with my life."

So can Santorum turn the ship around when it comes to women? Or will he stick to his conservative guns and go full steam ahead with his ideas about the roles of women in “traditional” families? His chief rival Mitt Romney is gaining some much needed momentum with his wins in the Maine caucuses, as well as the straw poll conducted at the Conservative Action Political Conference last week, so Santorum might want to reconsider how many women voters he might be alienating with his long-running views on “traditional” women’s roles. 

As the mother of a daughter, there’s one thing I know for sure that Santorum should watch out for--the day when his daughters announce they no longer agree with his view of what jobs, positions or roles are appropriate ones for women.  Because as almost all parents know, our kids have their own ideas about what their futures are going to look like. In light of Santorum’s remarks about the capacity of women to serve in the military or in the working world, could you vote for him for president?

Watch: Ann Romney & Callista Gingrich: GOP Wives' Cheat Sheet - Part 1


Watch: Karen Santorum & Carolyn Paul: GOP Wives' Cheat Sheet - Part 2

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

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