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Several prominent Republicans are turning against U.S. Representative and Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-Mo) in the wake of his absurd claim that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant.

Akin, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in an election that could decide which party controls the Senate in 2012, landed in hot water on Sunday when reporter Charles Jaco asked him if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.

“It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin answered. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Predictably, Democrats immediately pounced on Akin’s comments. McCaskill quickly responded with a statement calling Akin’s position “offensive” and saying that “It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” and the Democratic National Committee almost immediately began trying to tie the entire Republican party to Akin’s absurd views.

Somewhat surprisingly, many Republicans have joined the Democrats and thrown Akin under the bus. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is calling for Akin to drop out of the race, calling his comments “inappropriate and wrong.”

“There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking,” Brown said. “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.”

Wisconsin Senator and Tea Party favorite Ron Johnson echoed Brown’s call, tweeting that “Todd Akin’s statements are reprehensible and inexcusable. He should step aside today for the good of the nation.”

Republican presidential nominee-to-be Mitt Romney also blasted Akin’s comments, telling National Review Online that “Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.”

“Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive,” he added.

While Romney stopped short of calling on Akin to drop out — his adviser Stuart Stevens told reporters that “we’ll leave that to them to sort out” — it should be noted that Eric Fehrnstrom serves as a top adviser to both Romney and Senator Brown.

Romney, Brown, and Johnson are just three of many Republicans who are rapidly distancing themselves from Rep. Akin, and with good reason. The GOP needs to gain four seats to win control of the Senate; if McCaskill is re-elected, then that would be almost impossible to achieve. The New York Times’ Nate Silver predicts that Akin’s comments could cost him 10 percent in the polls, meaning that forcing him out of the race may be the Republican party’s only chance of winning a Senate majority.

In 2010, Republicans had a golden opportunity to take control of Congress’ upper chamber — only to lose winnable races in Nevada, Colorado, and Delaware by electing candidates from the right wing fringe. Brown, Johnson, and the rest of the discontented Republicans seem eager to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

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Reprinted with permission from Alternet

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