From the moment that Rep. Todd Akin shared his outrageous opinion on “legitimate rape,” Democrats have eagerly tried to connect the Missouri senate candidate to his congressional colleague, Paul Ryan. It’s not a particularly hard case to make, considering that Ryan has co-sponsored 38 anti-abortion measures during his time in the House, including joint efforts with Akin to ban federal funding for any abortion that wasn’t caused by “forcible rape.” In fact, Ryan has a higher lifetime voting score from the National Right to Life Committee than Akin does.
Sensing his vulnerability on the issue, Ryan attempted to distance himself from Akin today during an interview with a Pittsburgh CBS affiliate.
“Should abortions be available to women who are raped?” interviewer Jon Delano asked Ryan.
“Well, look, I’m proud of my pro-life record. And I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. It’s something I’m proud of,” Ryan replied. “But Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set the policy of the Romney administration.”
Unlike Ryan, Romney has said that he favors exceptions to allow abortions in case of rape or incest. Another bold stand from the “courageous” vice presidential nominee.
Delano also asked Ryan whether he still believes in a distinction between “forcible rape” and other assaults.
Delano: “You sponsored legislation that has the language ‘forcible rape.’ What is forcible rape as opposed…”
Ryan: “Rape is rape. Rape is rape, period. End of story.”
Delano: “So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the time?”
Ryan: “Rape is rape and there’s no splitting hairs over rape.”
Despite Ryan’s efforts to bury his anti-choice record, there is still plenty of material for his opponents to use against him on the issue. In addition to the fact that the official GOP platform endorses Akin and Ryan’s extreme position, Ryan won’t be able to duck his long legislative record on the issue.
For example, this morning a video from 2000 surfaced in which Ryan harshly denounces the women’s health exception in an abortion bill:
“This is not a political issue. This is a human issue,” Ryan declared. “The health exception is a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through it. The health exception would render this ban virtually meaningless.”
Expect to see this video — and others like it — in Democratic attack ads soon.