Hillary Clinton, who claims to support gender equality, declined on Wednesday to say that women should be automatically registered for the draft through Selective Service when they turn 18, as men are required to do.
The Democratic presidential front-runner was asked about her position on the issue during a town hall event hosted by CNN. Moderator Anderson Cooper asked Clinton what she thought of comments made during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing held on Tuesday in which Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller said that “all eligible qualified men and women should register for the draft.”
Citing new rules allowing women to apply for combat jobs, Neller said that now that those restrictions have been removed, “then you’re a citizen of a United States.”
“It doesn’t mean you’re going to serve, but you go register,” Neller said.
“Do you have think women should also have to register for Selective Service like men?” Cooper asked Clinton.
The former secretary of state avoided weighing in and offered a jumbled response.
“I have to think about whether it’s necessary to go as far as our military officers are recommending,” Clinton responded. “From my perspective, the all-volunteer military has worked and we should not do anything that undermines it because it has provided a solid core of people who are willing to serve our country.”
Nearly all men — even non-citizens and refugees — must register for Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18. The system has existed in its current form since 1980 and is in place to ensure that enough manpower is in place in case of large-scale war.
“I have a hard time imagining the kind of national emergency that would require the use of the Selective Service system. So I just have to be better informed about why they’re making this recommendation,” Clinton said.
“The idea of having everybody register concerns me a little bit unless we have a better idea of where that’s going to come out.”
Clinton used part of her response to pivot towards an automatic registration system she does support.
“Where I want people to register, I want every person to register at the age of 18 to be able to vote automatically,” Clinton said to applause. “I think if we had, you know, if we had a system like that, I would be very pleased about it.”