MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Chris Christie each affirmed Saturday during a Republican debate here that women should be required to sign up for the military draft.
Two House Republicans recently proposed a bill that would require 18-24-year-old women to register for the Selective Service program, which means they would be required to serve in the military if the draft were re-instituted. Conscription in the U.S. military ended in the 1970s.
ABC News moderator Martha Raddatz asked Bush and Rubio about the issue directly, and no other candidates butted in to announce their disagreement, as would be typical if they wanted to distinguish themselves from the rest of the group.
Christie, New Jersey’s governor, broke in to announce his support for the change. Ben Carson also interjected, but did not announce any opposition to women in the draft.
Raddatz first posed the question to Rubio. (VIDEO: Kasich: Obama Is ‘Not A King. He’s A President’)
“There are already women serving in roles that are like combat, and in fact whose lives are in very serious danger, so I have no problem with people of either gender serving in combat, so long as the minimum requirements necessary to do the job are not compromised,” Rubio replied.
“But I support that,” Rubio said. “I do believe selective service should be opened up for both men and women in the case that the draft is ever instituted.”
Raddatz then asked Bush, “Do you believe young women should sign up for selective service, be required?”
“I do,” the former Florida governor replied, “And I think that we should not impose any kind of political agenda on the military. If women can meet … the minimum requirements for combat service, they ought to have the right to do it, sure.”
Christie then spoke in favor of women in the draft.
“Can I be really clear on this? Because I am the daughter of two daughters, one of them is here tonight,” he began. “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 from within.”
“And if a young woman in this country wants to go and fight to defend her country, she would be permitted to do so,” Christie said. “There’s no reason why one young woman should be discriminated against from registering for the selective service.”