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Santorum 'Clarifies' His Support for Bruce Jenner

Santorum 'Clarifies' His Support for Bruce Jenner

Possible presidential hopeful Rick Santorum continues to backpedal on his headline-grabbing comments that seemed to support Olympian Bruce Jenner's recent announcement that he is a transgender woman. 

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and failed 2008 presidential candidate "clarified" his comments during a New Hampshire radio show this morning, BuzzFeed reports. 

"If Bruce Jenner says he’s a woman, then I’m not going to argue with him," Santorum said, noting that his previous comments called for treating everyone with dignity and respect. "I know what obviously and biologically he is. That doesn’t change by himself identifying himself. His genetics and DNA isn’t changing, but out of respect, as you said, I’m not going to argue if Bruce Jenner's a woman with Bruce Jenner. I’m going to treat him with dignity and respect, and that’s what I said."

Santorum's latest remarks echo his initial comments made at a conservative Iowa conference May 3, when he said of the former Olympian and Kardashian family patriarch, "If he says he's a woman, he's a woman. My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people from they are."

Jenner also revealed in his two-hour interview special with Diane Sawyer that he identifies as a Republican, so perhaps Santorum is simply seeking Jenner's vote. It's hard to say what motivated Santorum, who now appears to be straddling a line between genuine empathy for an American icon and keeping in-step with his right-wing base — which frequently opposes trans-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances and basic protections for trans Americans.

In a Facebook post later in the same day as his initial comments were reported, the notoriously antigay politician clarified that his statement was "meant to express empathy not a change in public policy. … My comment affirmed Jenner as a person, made by God in his likeness as we all are."

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