Rubio, Bush, Christie Say Young Women Should Register for Selective Service

Terence P. Jeffrey | February 7, 2016 | 12:10am EST
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( - In Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire, which was hosted by ABC News, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey all said that they support having young American women register for the selective service.

Rubio and Bush were responding to a question put directly to them by moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News. After Bush gave his answer, Christie interjected to volunteer his own.

Raddatz asked: “Senator Rubio, all restrictions on women in combat have been lifted as long as they qualify, positions including special operations forces like Navy Seals. Just this week, the military leaders of the Army and Marine Corps said that they believe young women, just as young men are required to do, should sign up for selective service in case the draft is reinstated.  

"Many of you have young daughters. Senator Rubio, should young women be required to sign up for selective service in case of a national emergency."

Rubio responded: "Well first, let me say there are already women serving today in roles that are like combat, that in fact whose lives are in very serious danger. So I have no problem whatsoever with people of either gender serving in combat, so long as the minimum requirements necessary to do the job are not compromised.  But I support that. And, obviously, now that that is the case I do believe that selective service should be opened up for both men and for women in case a draft is ever instituted.”

After this, Rubio made some statements about the need to reverse the weakening of the U.S. military.

Raddatz then put the question about women registering for the selective service to Bush.

Raddatz: “Gov. Bush … Do you believe that young women should sign up for selective service—be required to do so?"

Bush responded: “I do. I do. And I think that we should not impose any kind of political agenda on the military. There should be—if women can meet the requirements, the minimum requirements, for combat service, they ought to have the right to do it, for sure.”

After this, Bush made some statements about the need to strengthen the military.

Then Raddatz asked Bush a follow-up question about his statement that he supports having young women sign up for the selective service. This led to an exchange between her and Bush.

Raddatz asked: “Tell me what you would say to American people out there, who are sitting at home, who have daughters, who might worry about those answers?"

Bush: “Why would they worry about it?”

Raddatz: “--and might worry that the draft is reinstituted?"

Bush: “Well, the draft is not going to be reinstituted. But why—if women are accessing—”

Raddatz: “But you can just do away with it?”

Bush: “No, I didn’t say that. You asked the question not about the draft, you asked about registering. And if women are going to be supporting-- ”

Raddatz: “You register for the draft—if it’s reinstituted.”

Bush: “But we don’t have a draft. I’m not suggesting we have a draft. What I’m suggesting is that we ought to have readiness being the first priority of our military, and secondly that we make sure that the moral is high. And right now neither one of those is acceptable because we have been gutting the military budget. We also need to reform our procurement process. We need to make sure that there are more men and women in uniform than civilians in our Defense Department. There’s a lot of things that we need to do to reform, to bring our defense capabilities into the 21st century and I am the guy that can do that. That’s why I have the support of generals of admirals of 12 Medal of Honor recipients and many other people that know I would be a steady commander in chief and rebuild our military.

Raddatz: “Thank you very much.”

Gov. Chris Christie then stepped into the discussion to give his answer to the question.

Christie: “Martha, can I be really clear on this, because I am the father of two daughter—one of them is here tonight. What my wife and I have taught our daughters right from the beginning: that their sense of self-worth, their sense of value, their sense of what they want to do with their life comes not from the outside but comes from within. And if a young woman in this country wants to go and fight to defend her country she should be permitted to do so. And part of that also needs to be a part of a greater effort in this country. So, there is no reason why one young woman should be discriminated against from registering for the selecting service. The fact is we need to be a party and a people that makes sure that our women in this country understand anything they can dream, anything they want to aspire to, they can do. That’s the way we raised our daughters and that’s what we should aspire to as president for all the women in our country.”


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