Thursday, June 20, 2013
By NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON and PAUL KANE / The Washington Post
Rep. Todd Akin learned Monday that the national GOP will not spend money to help elect him to the Senate after his controversial comments about "legitimate rape," according to a National Republican Senatorial Committee aide.
NRSC Committee Chairman John Cornyn, R-Texas, also told Akin that by staying in the race, he is endangering Republicans' hopes of retaking the majority in the Senate, the aide said.
Akin had refused to withdraw his Senate campaign earlier Monday as Republicans, hoping to contain damage to the party brand, stampeded away from the staunch anti-abortion Senate candidate after he used the phrase "legitimate rape" in talking about abortion and pregnancy.
Akin, who has become a flash point of the 2012 campaign, responded to Republicans' calls for him to drop out during an interview Monday with Mike Huckabee on his radio show.
The House member from Missouri apologized, calling his remarks "a very, very serious error."
"The good people of Missouri nominated me, and I'm not a quitter," Akin told Huckabee, a Republican and former governor. "My belief is we're going to take this thing forward. And, by the grace of God, we're going to win this race. To quote my old friend John Paul Jones: 'I've not yet begun to fight.' "
Earlier in the day, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney condemned Akin's original remarks. "Congressman Akin's comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong," Romney said in a phone interview with the National Review Online, the second time that he has addressed the issue. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."
Sen. Scott Brown, who is running for re-election in Massachusetts, went further in his denouncement and issued a statement, saying: "As a husband, and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri."
And via his campaign's Twitter account, Sen. Ronald H. Johnson (Wis.) also called for Akin to drop out of the race: "Todd Akin's statements are reprehensible and inexcusable. He should step aside today for the good of the nation."
Cornyn's announcement is the second example Tuesday of Republicans pulling money from the race. The GOP outside group American Crossroads and its affiliated nonprofit Crossroads GPS have also canceled a scheduled buy this week on Akin's behalf, as first reported by Politico.
Democrats moved quickly to exploit the Akin controversy, aiming to widen the gender gap among voters, which could prove crucial in November.
During his first news conference in several months, President Obama said Akin's comments were offensive.
"Rape is rape, and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me," Obama said. "So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health-care decisions on behalf of women."
When asked whether he believed Akin should drop out of the race, the president said: "He was nominated by the Republicans in Missouri. I'll let them sort that out."
In an earlier interview on MSNBC, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill said that her challenger's comments offered a "window into (Akin's) mind."
Brown's and Johnson's statements were among at least a handful of denunciations Sunday night and Monday morning, including several from more conservative candidates with backing from the antiabortion community.
"I find Congressman Akin's comments insulting and reprehensible. His statements are beyond inexcusable, and I condemn them in the strongest terms possible," said Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., who is running a tight race for the seat of retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, who is a Democrat.
"I oppose abortion, but exceptions must be made for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother," said Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), who is the front-runner for the GOP nomination in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.
The sharp attacks from within his party distinguish Akin from some of the more controversial Senate candidates in 2010. Back then, Nevada's Sharron Angle openly discussed how citizens might have to "fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kind of ways," and it was revealed that Delaware's Christine O'Donnell had told an interviewer that masturbation was equivalent to adultery. The other Senate Republican candidates ignored those statements, telling local reporters that they were focused on their own race.