Romney surrogates stress electability, avoid hitting Santorum as too conservative

Romney's campaign has to walk a fine line when making the electability argument because they don't want to alienate conservatives or admit that he is the more moderate candidate. Romney described himself as a "severely conservative" governor over the weekend.

McMorris Rodgers demurred when asked by The Hill whether she thought Santorum was too conservative to be elected, and argued that Romney was more conservative on economic matters than Santorum. But earlier in the day, another Romney surrogate, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), expressed concerns with comments Santorum made about women in the military.

"I like Rick Santorum a lot. I just disagree with any inference that he might have made that somehow women are not capable of serving in the frontlines and serving in combat positions. And I base that in part on my own daughter’s own experience as a platoon leader in Iraq with 25 men working with her," McDonnell said on CNN Monday afternoon. "She did a great job, was in some risky situations, and yet endured and led and I’m proud of her."

When asked to clarify whether similar comments over the weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference were directed at Santorum, he suggested that they were. "I was certainly making it clear that to the degree the inference of the senator was that women aren’t capable, I disagree and I think Mitt Romney disagrees," he said.

Santorum said late last week that he had "concerns about women in frontline combat.

"I think that can be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved,” he said on CNN. Later on MSNBC, he said he was referring to men's emotions, not women's.

"I've talked about this issue a lot, and I’ve never raised that as a concern," he said. "The issue is … how men would react to seeing women in harm’s way or potentially being injured or in a vulnerable position and not be concerned about accomplishing the mission."