Dems seize upon Akin remarks as questions about Ryan's position surface
August 20th, 2012
10:18 AM ET
2 years ago

Dems seize upon Akin remarks as questions about Ryan's position surface

(CNN) - Republicans began distancing themselves from U.S. Rep. Todd Akin late Sunday and Monday after the Missouri congressman and candidate for Senate claimed "legitimate rape" rarely resulted in pregnancy.

Akin was explaining his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape, a viewpoint he shares with other conservative members of the Republican Party, including Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate.

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A spokeswoman for Romney's campaign released a statement indicating the presumptive GOP nominee and his running mate disagreed with Akin's remarks, which were made in an interview with KTVI.

"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg wrote.

And Romney himself, in an interview with the National Review Online, 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."

The Romney-Ryan campaign says the Wisconsin lawmaker has long personally maintained an opposition to abortion in all cases except when the life of the mother is at risk. However, he has supported legislation that would allow exceptions for pregnancy in the case of rape, incest, or when a mother's life is at risk.

Ryan co-sponsored a bill in the House last year that bestowed "personhood" rights on fertilized embryos, which would allow states or Congress to determine the legality of abortions.

A Romney campaign official said that the House Budget chairman's personal view remain unchanged, but that the position of the ticket reflected Romney's stance - that abortion should be legal in cases of rape.

Akin, who won a three-way GOP primary earlier this month to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in November's general election, said Sunday that he "misspoke" when he made the comments on "legitimate rape," though he maintained his opposition to abortion in all cases.

Brian Walsh, the communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote in an e-mail that "Congressman Akin did the right thing by quickly correcting the record and acknowledging that he misspoke."

Walsh said the election would be a referendum on McCaskill's voting record and support for the president's agenda.

Fellow Republicans, however, began distancing themselves from Akin, an indication of how harmful his remarks are being regarded by members of his own party.

"As a pro-life conservative, a husband, and a father of two young women, I find Representative Akin's remarks to be offensive and reprehensible," Rep. Dennis Rehberg of Montana, also running for U.S. Senate, wrote in a statement Sunday. "There is no such thing as a 'legitimate rape.' I condemn Representative Akin's statements in the strongest possible terms."

Sarah Steelman, the former state treasurer who was among Akin's challengers for the GOP Senate nomination in Missouri, also decried his remarks, writing on Twitter, "Todd Akin's remarks about 'legitimate rape' were inexcusable, insulting and embarrassing to the GOP."

Steelman lost to Akin in a three-way race for the GOP Senate nomination in Missouri at the beginning of August. She lagged far behind her competitors in terms of fund-raising, but gained national attention after receiving the coveted endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Sen. Scott Brown, in a heated re-election battle in Massachusetts, wrote on Twitter that he "found Todd Akin's comments about rape victims outrageous and way over the line.

"He needs to apologize," Brown wrote. He later called on Akin to step down from the GOP Senate nomination.

Democrats, meanwhile, wasted no time linking Akin to the GOP presidential ticket, soliciting donations from supporters by asserting the GOP – "led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan" – was pushing policies that were dangerous for women.

"What do Romney and Ryan think of Akin's latest statement? They've been trying to distance themselves from it - but Congressman Ryan has already partnered with Akin on a whole host of issues that restrict women's ability to make their own health care decisions," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, wrote in the email.

"This kind of "leadership" is dangerously wrong for women - and I can't sit by and watch as these out of touch Republicans like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Todd Akin continue to roll back women's rights," she continued.

Polls indicate that President Barack Obama has the upper hand over Romney among female voters.

McCaskill almost immediately struck upon her opponent's comments Sunday, writing on Twitter: "As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I'm stunned by Rep Akin's comments about victims this AM."

She later released a statement condemning her rival as "ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape."

McCaskill's website splashed Akin's comments across the homepage, and included a link where supporters could donate money to the Missouri senator's campaign.

On Monday, McCaskill said on MSNBC that her rival's remarks were "a window into Todd Akin's mind."

"He was elected by the Republican primary voters, by a wide margin," McCaskill said. "I know there are people that are out of the mainstream that really support Todd Akin. But for most Missourians, I hope this is a gut check moment when they say this is not somebody we want speaking for us on the floor of the United States Senate."

Republicans consider McCaskill, first elected in 2006, highly vulnerable in her re-election bid for a second term. Ahead of the GOP primary, a Mason-Dixon poll showed the senator falling behind each of the three main GOP competitors in hypothetical match-ups among registered Missouri voters.

Prior to this controversy, the top non-partisan political handicappers had rated the race a "toss up." Republicans consider McCaskill's seat a prime take-over target as they try to reclaim control of the Senate. Democrats currently have a 53 to 47 advantage in the chamber, but are defending 23 (21 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party) of the 33 seats up for grabs in November.

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Filed under: Abortion • Missouri
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Rico Sauve

    Legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down, REALLY!!! When did rape become legitimate? I guess this is the new Tea-Bagger/GOP platform!!

    August 20, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Lar 5

    Despite their disavowals of Akin both Romney and Ryan agree with his premise of prohibiting abortions in cases of rape and incest. Now they etch-a-sketched their positions. Ryan has repeatedly stated his opposition to these abortions. When did he change his mind? FoxNews has not said much about this and will bend over backwards to defend the most obscene in the GOP, even when it comes to rape and women's rights. It seems as if no one at Fox has a daughter in their family.

    August 20, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. fayse

    Paul Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Todd Akin to "redifine rape" Paul Ryan is going around the Country and he is lying through he is teeth about what his plan for medicare is. Does he really believe that we have forgotten that he wanted to put medicare on a VOUCHER program? Apparently Romney / Ryan are practicing the old " tell a lie big enough, often enough and loud enough and eventually people will believe you" !!!!!!!!!!

    August 20, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. Paula

    I agree with Rep. Schultz and McCaskill. Republicans want to put women's rights back 100 years as if that will ever happen without a fight!! Akin needs to go soak his head in the sand where it seems to be. He's radical like most of GOP. I sure pity his wife and daughters.

    August 20, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Mitch H

    When a politician "misspoke" is when we get a rare glimpse into their true points of view. This guys is scary.

    August 20, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. Yeahona

    Who's got the hot potato – oh, throw the hot potato to the next person.. ouch... get rid of it. Love it when these people espouse their narrow minded beliefs and then act as if they misspoke. Why not just be honest instead of being holier than thou?

    August 20, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  7. 1twinswin

    Misspoke? A full statement of multipe sentences is not misspeaking. Calling one of your children by another of your kid's name is misspeaking.

    August 20, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    Rep Atkin shifted the blame from the rapist to the victim. The victim ends up being punished twice. This is Dark Ages logic to say that there was no rape if there is a pregnancy. This thinking was justified by condemning women as an evil temptress of men, a misinterpretation of the Adam and Eve mythodology.

    August 20, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. Woman In California

    What is a "legitimate rape"? Ask ANY woman who was raped was it legitimate or not and she'll spit in your nasty face. These republicans are so set on destroying any right a woman has to HER body they can't even think straight. Any woman in her right mind would send these fat cats back to their caves and out of the public eye once and for all. Thanks for letting us know what your party thinks of rape victims.

    August 20, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Captain Awesome

    Rep. Akin's remarks were completely ridiculous and surely a political misstep on his part. However, here comes another distraction by the media and the dems to turn the focus away from the horrible obama economy. Sadly, the msm will make this the hot topic du jour for the next couple of weeks in an attempt to put Pres....., I mean Governor Romney on the ropes. Don't fall for it America. This is still about the economy and saving Medicare.

    Romney/Ryan 2012

    August 20, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. zzzzz

    And Ryan co-sponsored a anti-abortion bill with Akin.
    And in Ryan's words, he is as a pro-lifer they get.
    Hey Romney: "Akin will be further to the right VP!"
    You have a week to chnage your mind.

    August 20, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. Ronnie

    Saw Mitt and Ryan campaigning in New Hampshire this morning..
    Looks like they are already tired with the compaign speeches..
    They dont have the energy to go the next 80 or so days...
    Americans seems to be tired of their hipocracy too....

    How come all of a sudden Ryan say that he is not planning to raid medicare ???
    Ryan was for stimulus in 2002 when Bush passed it..
    Again he was for stimulus when Bush again did it in 2008...
    Now when Obama wanted it in 2009 Ryan was dead against stimulus..
    What a hipocracy ???

    August 20, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. Jerry

    Both sides just wait for the other to make an error or even say something that can be taken out of context so they can use it to batter the other side. This doesn't solve our problems with the economy or the deficit and I'm sick of this. Can we please have some adult discussions about real issues? This BS only make things worse. GROW UP!

    August 20, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Another nail in the GOP coffin!

    August 20, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Mike Botwin

    "Legitimate rape." Only a Republican could dream of that.

    August 20, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  16. LOLZ CNN!

    CNN – " What ever we do, do NOT report about the economy, unemployment, the deficit, the nation debt, or the truth about illegal immigration. – Now team – GO SPIN!!!!"

    August 20, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. HBar

    Aha! But what if the woman gets pregnant from dirty toilet seats!

    August 20, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. rdeleys

    Surely there must be some minimum standards a candidate for public office should have to meet. Just when you think things are about as low as you can get, Akin comes along and takes the country to new depths. As far as I'm concerned, Akin has just disqualified himself for office.

    August 20, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "He needs to apologize," Brown wrote.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yeah but to whom? The GOP? The Tea Party? Because the Lord knows it won't be to us women, or to people who make sense.
    And for what? Saying what he feels BEFORE he got elected into office?
    These are the nutjobs that you want leading us America.

    August 20, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. California Gary

    Watching Romney and Ryan do the moon walk from their own positions on this is entertaining to say the least. Both have supported positions of no abortion for any reason, and have even gone so far as supporting a position that would outlaw some forms of contraception. How does that differ from what this congressman stands for?

    August 20, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  21. pkrbkr

    The true colors of the Right Winger/Republican party shows up again and again! People, wake up! There IS a war on women, and it IS the Republicans! These statements continue to make me a Democratic voter!

    August 20, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  22. Nietodarwin

    Romney's position is different, he doesn't oppose abortion in cases of rape. If the GOP wins however, it won't matter, because a women will not be able to get an abortion anyway. I'm glad Akin said what he said. Paul Ryan shares his views that raped women should not have access to abortion.
    MORE PROOF THAT THE GOP TODAY IS THE TALIBAN, THE AMERICAN TALIBAN.

    August 20, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Romney and Ryan are only doing a publicity stunt to direct attention from what Akin said but in actuality, both Romney and Ryan could care less about the health and welfare of women in this country. After all, they have proved it during the primaries and in congress where Ryan was forefront in the GOT's efforts to dismantle all programs for women health during the debt ceiling debates. Hypocrisy.

    August 20, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  24. t8kiteasy

    Of course another article based on mispeak. Not worthy of any air time unless you are a dem.

    August 20, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. demovsemperor

    This has got to be one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard since Pelosi said "we'll have to pass it before we know what is in it"

    August 20, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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