Republicans Signal New Support for Disgraced Candidate
When Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) made his infamous observation that “legitimate rape” rarely produces pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” his fellow Republicans couldn’t run away fast enough. One after another they denounced Akin — despite the fact that many of them shared his sentiments on the issue if not his extremely poor choice of words. In fact, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan even teamed up with Akin and other House Republicans in an ill-fated effort to redefine rape. Ryan also worked with Akin on a “personhood” measure that would outlaw abortion in all circumstances and ban common forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.
The most immediate impact of the Republican effort to distance themselves from Akin (and to try to force him to quit the race) came in the form of declarations from GOP outside spending groups that they would abandon Akin’s campaign and pull their money out of Missouri. For the most part, these groups have kept their word and Sen. Claire McCaskill has surged ahead in the polls.
Now things have changed.
Yesterday was the last day that Akin could pull out of the race and, as promised, he did not do so. So with their chances of taking the Senate looking more and more unlikely by the day, it appears Republicans don’t think Akin and his outrageously offensive comments are so bad after all.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the official campaign arm of Senate Republicans, opened the door to getting back into the race on Akin’s behalf:
“There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein-in the role of government in people’s lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country, that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Sen. Claire McCaskill,” NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer said. “As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November, and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who had earlier called on Akin to quit the race, also voiced his support for Akin:
Congressman Akin and I don’t agree on everything, but he and I agree the Senate majority must change. From Governor Romney to the county courthouse, I’ll be working for the Republican ticket in Missouri, and that includes Todd Akin.
Other prominent Republicans went even further. Former Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are backing Akin. Gingrich even held a fundraiser for Akin earlier this week. Akin also received the backing of Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) Senate Conservatives Fund, an influential, well-funded group that has backed the GOP’s most extreme Senate candidates over the past two election cycles.
BOTTOM LINE: The GOP’s apparent re-embrace of Todd Akin tells us what we knew all along: Republicans didn’t really object to Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape,” they just found them to be politically inconvenient. Despite their initial attempt to distance themselves from Akin, it appears that Republicans are going to have to take responsibility for his outrageous comments about women and their bodies.
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