Karen Santorum defends Rick on women's issues

(CBS News) Karen Santorum, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, has an accomplished career history -- she's worked as a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit, has a law degree and has published two books -- so she says she takes it personally when her husband's critics cast him as a social conservative who doesn't understand modern women.

"They try to corner him and make it look like he doesn't know anything else" other than conservative social values, Santorum told CBS News political correspondent Jan Crawford in an interview for "CBS This Morning." "As a wife, mother, an educated woman, it frustrates me that they try to do that."

She said it's "unfortunate" that the media tries to "corner" her husband on issues like contraception.  (watch above)

"My husband is brilliant, he knows so much about -- you know, like I said -- national security, jobs, the economy," she told Crawford. "You know, every aspect of this race, any issue out there, he's brilliant."

Santorum's private side, through wife's eyes

After controversy arose surrounding a new federal rule requiring insurance coverage for contraception, Rick Santorum came under fire for his positions regarding birth control. The candidate also had to fend off questions about an offensive statement one of his backers made on the issue.

Karen Santorum advised her husband to avoid the subject, and perhaps rightly so -- polls suggest the issue has taken its toll.

In Michigan, Santorum lost among women voters by five points, which helped give Mitt Romney his slim victory there. In Ohio, where Santorum and Romney are running neck-and-neck, polls show women voters are turning away from Santorum: An Ohio Quinnipiac poll released Monday shows that Romney leads Santorum 38 to 29 percent among women -- even though Santorum led among women, 37 percent to 33 percent, in an Ohio Quinnipiac poll released just Friday.

The Santorums have also taken heat for discussing the way they handled the miscarriage of their son Gabriel at 20 weeks gestation. Rick and Karen Santorum took Gabriel home and let their other children hold him.

Karen Santorum told Crawford that the criticism was misguided and wrong. (watch at left)

"We brought Gabriel home from the hospital to have a funeral mass and to bury him. And so they twist it and make it sound like it was some crazy thing," she said. "We brought him home from the hospital to introduce him to our kids and place him, it was for the funeral mass and the burial. And what is so sad to me Jan is that no one can tell me how to grieve, and I'm not going to tell anyone else how to grieve. It's not right."

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