August 20th, 2012
03:50 PM ET
6 years ago

Akin stays in race despite conservative outlash, Romney says 'I can't defend him'

(CNN) - Mitt Romney on Monday advanced his criticism of Republican Rep. Todd Akin, saying he could not defend the Senate candidate over his controversial remarks about rape and pregnancy.

In an interview with New Hampshire television station WMUR, Romney said Akin "should spend 24 hours considering what will best help the country at this critical time," according to a tweet by the station's political director Josh McElveen.

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"I can't defend what he said, I can't defend him," Romney also said, according McElveen's Twitter feed.

His comment comes after a major Republican campaign group–the National Republican Senatorial Committee–signaled it would pull funding from Akin's Senate bid in Missouri against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The group's chairman, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, suggested in a statement that Akin "carefully consider what is best" in terms of his next step.

In an interview with the National Review Online published earlier Monday, Romney said that Akin's "comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong."

"Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive," Romney said, adding: "I have an entirely different view. What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it."

Later Monday, the same news outlet-National Review Online-called on the congressman to resign from his position as Senate nominee in an editorial titled, "Step Aside, Todd Akin,"

Adding to the drumbeat of intra-party criticism, some Republicans in Tampa, ahead of next week's Republican National Convention, expressed their frustration about Akin's comments.

A Republican National Committee member from a critical swing state predicted that a likely win in the Missouri Senate contest was now in jeopardy. As for the presidential campaign, the RNC member noted that Akin's remarks have caused an unnecessary distraction for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

"It is a terrible distraction in a Senate race that we were poised to win," said the RNC member, who spoke candidly on the condition of anonymity. "Akin needs to do the right thing and quietly leave the ballot.

"It has also changed the national conversation back to this supposed Republican faux war on women. That is not where Gov. Romney and his ticket want to spend their time on between now and November 6."

A senior Republican with strong ties to Missouri said Republicans are concerned that Akin will not be allowed to be removed from the ballot even if he succumbs to pressure and asks to be removed from the ballot.

"What was he thinking," said the Republican, who noted that regardless of what happens the GOP will now be sending a weakened Senate candidate into the November election.

On the other hand, top officials from the conservative group Family Research Council came to Akin's defense on Monday.

Connie Mackey, who heads the group's political action committee, said the group "strongly supports" Todd Akin.

"We feel this is a case of gotcha politics," Mackey told reporters in Tampa, where the Republican National Committee was gathering ahead of the party's convention next week. "He has been elected five times in that community in Missouri. They know who Todd Akin is. We know who Todd Akin is. We've worked with him up on the hill. He's a defender of life."

On Sunday, Akin said in a local TV interview that "legitimate rape" rarely resulted in pregnancy.

"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said of rape-induced pregnancy in an interview with KTVI. A clip of the interview was posted online by the liberal super PAC American Bridge.

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he added.

Following a resulting firestorm over his comments–from Republicans and Democrats alike–Akin apologized Monday afternoon during an interview on Mike Huckabee's radio show.

"I made that statement in error. Let me be clear. Rape is never legitimate. It's an evil act, and it's committed by violent predators," he said. "I used the wrong words in the wrong way. What I said was ill conceived and it was wrong. For that I apologize."

However, the Missouri Republican said he would not be backing down in his fight for the Senate seat.

"I don't know that I'm the only person in public office who suffered from foot in mouth disease here," the congressman said. "On the other hand there are so many good people in Missouri who nominated me."

Akin said he's focused on the economy and feels "just as strongly as ever" that his background would be a "big asset" in replacing McCaskill.

"I'm not a quitter. My belief is we're going to take this thing forward, and by the grace of God we're going this race," he said.

Hours after the interview, Akin stood by his pledge to stay in the contest.

"I am in this race to win. We need a conservative Senate," Akin posted on Twitter, urging supporters to donate to his campaign.

His spokesman, Ryan Hite, further reiterated Akin's vow to continue his campaign.

"Akin is not dropping out of this race," Hite told CNN.

- CNN's Mark Preston, Peter Hamby, Chris Welch, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Missouri • Mitt Romney • Senate
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. nc1965

    It's too late to distance yourselves Republicans. This is what you are. You can even distance yourselves from Romney and Ryan.

    August 20, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. mike

    It's not just Akin, it's the whole GOP that has twisted reasoning and hypocritical morality.

    August 20, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. Party politics

    Comments on this board are so typical. Akin's comment has nothing to do with the GOP, nor was it endorsed by them. Just like the actions of Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, and other dumb politicians had nothing to do with Democrats.

    Why does every single time something like this happens, the other side trounces on the whole party? This time it's the Democrats turn. Are distractions the only way to escape talking about the real issues?

    August 20, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. @RainCityLady

    Well, he just apologized on the Huckabee show, so I suppose that makes everything okay now. Whatever. It's just more of the same coming from members of that party, my dad's party. He must be turning over in his grave now. I won't say I told you so, dad, but I did, long, long ago.

    August 20, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. RocketV

    He said what Ryan voted for and Romney says he supports. The republicans are tied to this statement with all of the bills the House voted on in the past 1 3/4 years they have controlled the House. Ask about how many bills to create jobs, which is the reason they were put in. Sorry republican party, Atkin is talking your langauge and there is a war on women

    August 20, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Jennpar

    I wanna know what doctors told him that...and what med schools they went to. MORONS

    August 20, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Looks like it's in the hands of the People of Missouri...

    August 20, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. Serry Tanders

    Romney should advise Akin to retroactive retract the statement.

    August 20, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. B4Cons

    Never trust a man who can't go bald naturally.

    August 20, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. DaveC

    "On the other hand, top officials from the conservative group Family Research Council came to Akin's defense on Monday.

    Connie Mackey, who heads the group's political action committee, said the group "strongly supports" Todd Akin."

    Anybody who even thinks of belonging to the Family Research Council (if that is a bogus name I don't know what is) needs to be committed to the nearest mental health facility. These people are just plain nuts. The trouble is they speak for millions of so called "Americans" who enjoy the same rights and privileges you and I enjoy every day. These people should scare the holy crap out of any sane person for even thinking that Akin is right.

    As I stated before, Regan must be spinning in his grave right now. Poor guy watching the present republican party from wherever he is. It makes me sad.

    August 20, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Daniel Greco

    When are the Republicans going to "distance" themselves from each other. It's pretty much the Republican line on reproductive rights. Obama is not much better (especially after elections).

    August 20, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. WiredweirdinSF

    Why are the dope smokers attacking the Repbulican Party when it so clearly is distancing itself from the comments? Is it that campaign of hate, division, deceit anc class warfare that the current, inept, corrupt, incompetent, union toady president is running? Where was this concern when about Maxine Waters, Anthony Weiner or even the illustrious VP, were bringing such glory to the democrat liberal ideal and the nation? Just being their hypocritical selves.

    August 20, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    Willard can't or shouldn't defend his boy blunder Eddie Munster either. Munster sponsored numerous anti-abortion and personhood legislation with Achin'. Nice pick Robmey, way to alienate women even more.

    August 20, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Repulicans suck!

    I'm glad this guys speaks with what GOP believes!! Way to go!! Obama/Biden baby!

    August 20, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. F

    I'm glad he's staying in the race. That way come November, Senator McKaskill can say she won because of the people, not because her opponent quit.

    August 20, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. ritmocojo

    Akins' mouth is the window to the GOtP brain.

    August 20, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Mike

    From the great "Show Me State" we get Rush Limbaugh and Todd Akin, you really are showing us something Missouri. Showing us the effects of being the meth capitol of the USA.

    August 20, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. Libgirl

    Just some more of the Republican "stink" they are knee deep in it and they just keep stepping back and forth in it!

    August 20, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. TAK

    NEWSFLASH to the GOP: Right now Rep. Akins defines the Republican Party's position on abortion. Worse still, he is their spokesman in the eye of the U.S. electorate.

    August 20, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Michael in Houston

    wow...the to LOVE how they can produce a bounty of really creepy candidates

    August 20, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Craig

    If the state of Missouri goes on to elect this - I don't even know what to call him - the state of Missouri will once again confirm what a truly backwards place it is politically and religiously. I am not saying every Missourian, but far too many, particularly once you drop below the interstate connected KC and St. Louis. This is your potential leader? Seriously? Having worked in the child abuse field and seen a mother lamenting that her raped, pregnant daughter of 12 or 13 (who was being forced to carry the baby to full term - geez imagine waking up everyday knowing that the child you gave birth to came from rape!!!) weighed less than her daughter at that stage of pregnancy - tells me how unbelieveable people are - before you think it's okay for a rape victim to carry a rapist's baby to fruition, image if that was your daughter, your granddaughter and tell me that would be just fine with you - if you can, then vote for that animal because you are one just like him - and for me this isn't about politics == this is about simple human decency. Another sign of how bad this country is at nominating and electing intelligent, thinking leaders. Once again, congratulations Missouri!!

    August 20, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Parsing

    This is what you get when a party focused on the 1% has to reach out a build a voter base large enough to win. For years the GOP has pandered to goofballs and not that is what they are.... Unfortunately, we are putting them in charge of the US and not North Sudan.

    August 20, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. nothing new here

    I agree with Romney on this one.
    There is no way that any decent, reasonable, respectable person can defend this foolishness.
    If the average person could make their body fight off cancers, injuries, illnessess and so on, there would be no need for modern medicine as we know it. Goodness knows that I could have saved myself a lot of $$$$ and time on medications and doctors visits, just to treat my own health-related issues.

    August 20, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. Dirty Dan

    Nice move Romney by not defending him. This is exactly what the Obama camp was hoping you wouldn't do.

    August 20, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. CNN Fan

    I know this man is totally wrong....and the Romney-Ryan policy also wrong about that..but they just kicked him out as far as they they can avoid people talking about their is so ridiculous when Romney just said... "comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong." himself... haha

    August 20, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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