- (Reuters/Phil Noble)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama rarely, if ever, agree on anything. But they and other top politicos are walking in unison when it comes to the issue of Augusta National Golf Club – the site of this weekend's PGA Masters Tournament – allowing women as members of the exclusive club.
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney addressed the issue, saying that although the club still has a right to make its own decision, "[Obama's] personal opinion is women should be admitted to the club."
Romney also addressed the issue when a reporter asked him his opinion only hours after Obama's comments were made public. Romney also said he favors women being accepted into the all-male club.
"I am not a member of Augusta," Romney said. "I don't know if I would qualify. My golf game is not that good. Certainly, if I were a member, if I could run Augusta, which isn't likely to happen, of course I'd have women into Augusta."
Others such as GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined the chorus via Twitter to suggest women be accepted as members.
"Don't you think it's time August National joined the 21st century – or the 20th – and allowed women as members," tweeted McCain on Friday.
Gingrich even took the issue a step farther, suggesting that the club's first female member should be his wife. "I think Callista would be a great member #Augusta – maybe she would let me come and play," tweeted Gingrich.
Most golf fans consider the Masters tournament, held in the small community of Augusta, Ga. each April, the greatest venue to see the world's best golfers vie for the coveted green jacket.
Founded by golfing great Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, Augusta National Golf Club sits on the site of a former indigo plantation and opened for play in 1933. The club, which has around 300 members, came under fire in the late 1980s because of its policy of not to allowing Blacks to join the club. However, the club accepted their first Black member in 1990.
In 2002, then chair of the National Council of Women's Organization, Martha Burk, protested over the club's rule that no women are allowed as members. Burk labeled the club as sexist, but then August National Chairman Hootie Johnson characterized Burk's comments as "offensive and coercive."
In a 2003 interview with PBS, Johnson said: "Our membership is single gender just as many other organizations and clubs all across America. These would include Junior Leagues, sororities, fraternities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and countless others. And we all have a moral and legal right to organize our clubs the way we wish."
At the pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday, current chairman Billy Payne refused to comment on the issue, specifically if the female CEO of the tournament's sponsor IBM would be offered membership.
"We don't talk about our private deliberations," Payne said in response to a question. "We especially don't talk about it when a named candidate is a part of the question."
Although no women are known to be members of the club, they are allowed to play as guests.