“When they’re in theater in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they are vulnerable,” he said. “They are wounded, and they’ve been killed. And they have carried out their jobs with extraordinary patriotism and distinction.”
The policy change overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units, and is expected to open up more than 230,000 combat positions that have been off limits to women.
Obama said he meets “extraordinary women in uniform who can do everything that a man can and more.” He gave the example of one of his military aides, who he estimated is only about 5 feet tall and 100 pounds.
“You put a 50-pound pack on her, and she can do things that you or me would keel over doing. And so the truth is that women are serving. They are taking great risks. What we should not do is somehow prevent them from advancing in an institution that we all revere.”
On the economy, Obama said although more revenue has to be raised to reduce the deficit, it can be done without raising income tax rates again. He said the answer is “smart spending cuts,” reducing waste in the health care system and closing loopholes and deductions that benefit a few high income earners.
“There’s no doubt we need additional revenue coupled with smart spending reductions in order to bring down our deficit,” he said. “We can do it in a gradual way so it doesn’t have a huge impact.”
Coming before the Super Bowl, Obama had to expect he’d be asked about his recent comment that if he had a son, he would have to think hard about letting him play football because of safety concerns. Obama said he feels differently about the NFL, where the players are well-compensated adults who know the risks, but the threat of concussions has to give parents pause about letting youth and children play.