Picture by AP Photo/Bill Boyce
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) has warmed Democrats’ hearts for two reasons. First, the Republican Senatorial nominee singlehandedly made Missouri a swing state, instantly reducing his party’s chances of defeating Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) seat and regaining control of the Senate. Second, he did what no elected Republican seems to have the courage to do anymore. Akin stood up to his entire party.
Of course, Akin was in an indefensible position. Suggesting victims of “legitimate rape” do not get pregnant isn’t just inaccurate, it’s appalling. But he didn’t let that stop him.
Republicans immediately sensed the seriousness of the Akin crisis. In a year when Republican policies on birth control and Planned Parenthood threaten a historically wide gender gap at the polls, Akin’s comments confirmed many of the worst clichés about the Grand Old Party. Republican men not only fail to understand how women think, they simply do not grasp how the female body works. Or they just don’t care.
An equally troubling problem for the GOP is that Akin and Paul Ryan (R-WI), their soon-to-be vice-presidential nominee, share an identical voting record on abortion rights. In fact they’ve worked closely to restrict reproductive freedom. Republicans needed to kill that story, and fast.
When Akin’s attempts to clarify his comments Sunday afternoon revealed that he didn’t grasp why people were so upset, supporters of the Republicans whom Akin had defeated in the primary began reminding their party that the congressman had until Tuesday at 5 PM Central to drop out.
The clock had started.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), facing a tight race against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, was one of the first Republicans to call on Akin to withdraw. That evening the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, responded to Akin’s outrageous comments as any true leader would — with a angry statement.
“Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” the statement read. Of course, the statement also included another flip flop. Paul Ryan, up until that moment, had never supported any exceptions in his anti-abortion rights stand.
Notably, the Romney campaign statement did not call on Akin to withdraw.