"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 like offshore tax havens that benefit a few high income earners but not most Americans.
"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 long and hard about letting him play football because of safety concerns. Obama said he feel 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.
"I want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make the sport safer, and that means the game's probably going to evolve a little bit," Obama said. "For those of us who like to see a big hit and enjoy the rock `em, sock `em elements of the game, we're probably going to be occasionally frustrated.
"But I do think we want to make sure that after people have played the game, that they're going to be OK," he said.
The Obamas were hosting their own Super Bowl party for friends and family at the White House. In honor of the two teams, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, they were serving Chesapeake crabcakes and San Francisco cioppino stew with sourdough toast. Also on the menu are Clipper City and Anchor Steam beers from the competing cities.