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Video: Santorum: I won’t make personal attacks

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    >> much. rick santorum is now joining us from capitol hill . senator, good morning.

    >> good morning, ann.

    >> there is a sense you're finally getting your due, gaining momentum after the three-state sweep and a new gallup poll released thursday shows you're tied with newt gingrich nationwide. what do you want to say about the excitement this is generating? we heard kelly talk about the money. does she have that right? how much more do you expect?

    >> we'd love it to keep up at this pace. it's been about $1 million a day which is terrific. we're saying the same message we have been saying for months. this is the most important election in the history of our country, an election about whether we are going to with a country that believes in foundational freedom, that we'll build a great country from the bottom up or with an elite from the top down telling us what to do.

    >> on thursday you said mitt romney 's campaign has been serially tearing down opponents without offering any kind of vision for what he wants to do for this country. i have to ask. if you look at what's happened so far for the republican nomination, it is clear that negative campaigning generates votes. the question is if history is a guide, aren't you going to now have to go negative? will you commit that you and your pacs will not or are you going to have to now?

    >> i have talked about the issues. the speeches i give, i try to give a vision for america, what i believe is in the best interest of our country with limited government and reducing the size and scale of washington and promoting the basic values that i think of hard work, giving people opportunity --

    >> i'm sorry to interrupt, but i'm asking whether or not you will go negative.

    >> as i said --

    >> have you decided you absolutely will not? can you commit to that now or will you have to? do you want the nomination enough to do that if you have to?

    >> if you mean negative by personally questioning their personal or business or -- no. i'm going to talk about the issues. i'm going to talk about my record, my vision for the country. i will talk about governor romney's record and barack obama 's record and vision for the country. this should be about the issues, about what people care about at home. they don't care where you made money and how you made that money as long as you didn't do anything illegal, unethical. they are focused on how you will help them make money, provide for themselves and the family and build stronger communities in america.

    >> you're clearly animated when you talk about this. are you prepared to commit to not going negative? can you answer that question yes or no?

    >> if you mean going negative against someone in a personal way, absolutely not. we will talk about the issues. i think governor romney and barack obama 's record, which on a lot of issues are the same, are negative in what they have done to this country and the state of massachusetts . i will certainly point that out as i have throughout the course of the campaign. we'll talk about things americans care about that affect them, not this back and forth we have seen in the race so far.

    >> one of the things you were asked last night on cnn as an issue americans care about is the pentagon's plan to allow women to serve in combat roles. you have concerns about aptd you said, quote, it 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. what do you mean by that? do you want to take another crack at that?

    >> well, no, exactly what i said. when you have men and women together in combat, i think men have emotions when you see a woman in harm's way. i think it's natural. it's very much in our culture to be protective. that was my concern. i think that's a concern with all of the militaries. the israeli military has women in a lot of roles but don't allow them in combat because of the natural inclination to not focus on the mission but be in a position to protect someone because that's something that's natural within our culture.

    >> some people might listen to the quote and think you meant that you were concerned about women being emotional.

    >> oh, no. that's not the issue. i have talked about this issue a lot. i have never raised that as a concern. no. the issue is certainly one that's been talked about for a long, long time is how men would react to seeing women in harm's way or potentially being in a vulnerable position and not be concerned about accomplishing the mission.

    >> i see. right. i hope it's okay to ask how your 3-year-old daughter is doing. i know she was hospitalized with pneumonia.

    >> well, she's doing great. i was with her last night. i hadn't been with her since i left her in the hospital. she was on the mend when i left. it was so great to be home last night and get a chance to spend a lot of time with her and the rest of the kids. this has been a wellspring of refreshment on the campaign for me.

    >> we wish her well.

    >> thank you.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 2/10/2012 9:18:42 AM ET 2012-02-10T14:18:42

The U.S. military wants to open thousands of jobs that could put more women on the front lines of combat, a move Rick Santorum believes could compromise missions.

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“When you have men and women together in combat, I think men have emotions when you see a woman in harm’s way,’’ Santorum told TODAY’s Ann Curry Friday. “I think it’s something that’s natural that’s very much in our culture to be protective. That was my concern, and I think that’s a concern with all the military.’’

Video: Santorum: I won’t make personal attacks (on this page)

The orders from the Pentagon issued Thursday — ending restrictions that prevent women from taking certain military positions once considered dangerous —will take effect in 30 works days if Congress offers no opposition.

Santorum cited the Israeli army’s policy of not allowing women on the front lines of combat to support his stance. On CNN Thursday, he said that having women serve in combat was “not in the best interests of men, women or the mission.”

“(It’s) because of that reason of a sort of natural inclination to not focus on the mission because of the natural inclination to want to protect someone because it’s natural within our culture,’’ he told Curry.

Curry asked the former Pennsylvania senator whether he believes women are not capable of fighting alongside men in the fiercest parts of the battle.

Pentagon lets women deploy closer to combat

“No, that’s not the issue,’’ he said. “I’ve never raised that as a concern. The issue…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.’’

Santorum’s comments come as his campaign surges: One Gallup poll shows him tied for second place nationwide with Newt Gingrich, just behind Mitt Romney. Wins in three straight primaries in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri have garnered him an influx of campaign donations.

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“We’d love it to keep up at this pace,’’ Santorum said. “It’s been about a million dollars a day, which is really terrific.’’

Story: Santorum gets second wind with sweep in Minn., Mo., Colo.

Santorum insisted his campaign won't "(go) negative against someone in a personal way," and insisted his rhetoric will stick to the issues. "This should be about what people care about at home. They don’t care about where you made money and how you made that money as long as you didn’t do anything illegal and unethical.’’

Santorum visited his 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, in the hospital Thursday night. The toddler, who is currently fighting a bout of pneumonia, suffers from Trisomy 18, a genetic abnormality that leaves her vulnerable to developmental and cardiac issues. Fewer than 1 percent of children with Trisomy 18 live to the age of 10 and only eight percent make it past their first birthday.

“She’s doing great,’’ Santorum said. “I haven’t been with her since I left her in the hospital, (and) she was on the mend when I left. It was just so great to be home last night and get a chance to spend a lot of time with her and the rest of the kids. This has been a great little wellspring of refreshment on the campaign the last few hours.’’

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