Dems seize upon Akin remarks as questions about Ryan's position surface
August 20th, 2012
10:18 AM ET
6 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. Wake up People!

    Can someone please explain the difference between legitimate rape and illegitimate rape? If I go on a date with a guy that turns out to be a creep and I just want to go home but said creep overpowers me is that considered illegitimate rape because I went out with the guy??

    Why do rethugs say we need less govt except when it comes to making decisions about our own bodies. They claim they are pro life but after the babies are born all the concern stops. People, especially women, had better wake up the rethugs are trying to turn you into mindless, pretty idiots whose only purpose is cooking, cleaning, and giving birth.

    God help us if Willard is elected.

    OBAMA 2012!

    August 20, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. App

    I think all politicians should be required to have a mental evaluation, especially at the national level. This I believe would eliminate most Republicans, like Rep. Akins

    August 20, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. New Mexico Woman

    What! Are you kidding me? As a representative of the U.S. government and the people of this country, this man is a disgrace. If women were able to "shut down" their bodies during sex, there would be no need for abortion. This man should be removed from office. I certainly don't want this man making decisions that will impact our country.

    August 20, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Truth

    Wow!! Not a word from Fox News, Sarah Palin, Beck, Rush, Hannity, and the Tea Party.
    What's wrong Koch's got your tongue. Bunch of cowards...

    August 20, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. rob

    @Captain Awesome
    I agree. While most republican candidates are rightfully disavowing this guys stupid statement, the Media will run it endlessly while their pupet masters in the Democratic Party try to tie any Politician with an "R" in front of their name to it. But when it comes to Vice President Bidens comments claiming Republicans want to "put yall back in chains" or of course the very real VIOLENCE in the form of a shooting at a conservative organization by a member of the Democrat constituancy both get a big yawn from the same media.

    There can't be a better example of the now completely transparent and outright support the President and the Dems are getting from the liberal media.

    August 20, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Ben

    That's right CNN, gotta foster the GOP War on Women party line even if you need to make a top story out of a nobody...

    August 20, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. Jim Hahn

    Akin didn't "misspeak" he just told us how he really feels. The Republicans are out to throw women under the bus. I still can't understand how an intelligent woman can vote Republican.

    August 20, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. scmom

    @realitybites, President Obama didn't make this comment. And he's not using it for a distraction. If you think what this butthole said was ok then that says a lot about you.

    August 20, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Brian

    IIt's understandable for Dems to do it, but CNN's keeping of this remark as headline for over 12 hours is questionable. He is hardly a key GOP figure. One dumb remark from a guy within a big group is hardly news worthy unless CNN has other agenda.

    August 20, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. USNDV

    Is that all you have ? Really!

    August 20, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. B.

    Akins = GOP ignorance.

    These mindless fools will take us all back to the 50s and Ryan and Romney are the leaders of this mindset!

    August 20, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Jim

    I have never understood that no matter what side of the abortion issue you are on why in the world would anyone want a woman to have to carry a baby for nine months after she was raped and or was subject to incest! And most of the anti-abortion people consider themselves Christian. That is not the Chistianity I jnow about but it certainly is what I see in way too many Republicans and their fight against women. Wake up quick people as this is a sign of what we will continue to get if we do not rid these radicals out of our political system.

    August 20, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. ritmocojo

    His mouth is a window to his brain.

    August 20, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. justicenonexistent

    I see U.S. Rep. Todd Akin isn't the only idiot. Akin's stance is not the norm for the Republican party and the Dems need to a) get a life and b) stick to the issues. Namely jobs and the economy. If you can't address the real concerns perhaps you should get out of the race and let those who want to restore the USA to what it once was take over.

    August 20, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    rob, they are disowning him not because they are offended by the remark, but by the potential damage it will and is causing them. Over 3-dozen bills were voted on by the House during the last session of Congress: were they that focussed on working with the President to get the country moving forward? Nope. Could not be bothered with that.

    August 20, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. dave

    Yet another example of Christian persecution in this country. What a shame that a good and honorable man can't express his beliefs without being attacked by the liberal media. He should be able to exercise "freedom of expression" without anyone else entering the discourse. That's what democracy is all about. Vote GOP!

    August 20, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. Anonymous

    any thing to distract from obamas failed presidency, liberal media is runnin scared

    August 20, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Dave R.

    I can't believe there are postings here defending this guy. Republicans need to explain why when Bush was in office that;
    – Unemployment went from 4.5% to 7.9%
    – Deficit went from $350 Bil (credit) to $11Tril

    .. can we say Bush tax Cuts boys and girls?? The gift that just keeps on giving.

    August 20, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. BK

    Even though I'm leaning towards Obama so far, I don't think this is a legit reason to go after the Romney camp. If you blame them for everything any Republican says, then you have to be prepared to answer for anything any Democrat says, after all.

    August 20, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. IndeePendant

    So, which VP would you prefer? A VP who comments about republicans chaining the people again or a VP who supports ban on abortion inspie of 'legitimate rape'? Go figure my dear fellow citizens of America... go figure...

    August 20, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. Randy, San Francisco

    Time to see Ryan do the flip flop. The joint Romney/Ryan statement denouncing Rep Atkin's stance on abortion following a rape is not Ryan's true position. Ryan holds similar extreme positions as Rep Atkin on abortion and women health care.

    August 20, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. Russ

    I believe this guy was taught by his conservative religion that women can't become pregnant if they don't want to be. In other words, pregnancy is controlled by the mind, and the body will prevent pregnancy if it forced sex by a stranger, as opposed to her husband/boyfriend just having his way with her, against her will.

    August 20, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  23. Marty, FL

    Those decrying distraction sadly do not understand Romney/Ryan's admitted support of personhood would outlaw basic contraceptives, which would prevent women from making their own economic decisions for family.

    August 20, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    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.
    That's called talking out of both sides of your mouth at the same time. You cannot be for "personhood" and for allowing exceptions to abortions at the same time.

    August 20, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Liberty

    Oh come on some guy made a stupid remark when pressed on medical science he doesn't understand. This is all one big distractin form the economy. Anyone been to the grocery to buy meat or filled up their gas or paid school tuition lately? The economy si faultering much worse than the governemnt statistics. Printing money out of thin air is causing the price of goods to elevate. Teacher pensions are causing a lot of ills like increased property tax and college tuition hikes. Wise up sheeple and stop being distracted by the "moral" nonissue of the day. The solution is to reduce size of government spending. If I was president on day 1 I would tell every governemntal office to reduce your budget by 50 percent and if it means firing half the govenment workforce and cutting pensions by 50 percent then let it be. The fall to socialism further will continue to ravage our economy.

    August 20, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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