Former congressman and horrifically failed Senate candidate Todd Akin is back — and he’s still making life miserable for his fellow Republicans.
Akin, whose 2012 bid to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) imploded when he infamously declared that women rarely get pregnant from “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” resurfaced in late June with an ebook titled Firing Back. The central theme of the book, which was published by the right-wing, conspiracy-minded WorldNetDaily, is that Akin was right about rape, and he only lost his election by 16 points because he loves the Constitution too much.
On Thursday, Politico ran excerpts from the book, in which he pointedly walks back the apology that he made for the remarks during the campaign.
“By asking the public at large for forgiveness,” Akin writes, “I was validating the willful misinterpretation of what I had said.”
“My comment about a woman’s body shutting the pregnancy down was directed to the impact of stress on fertilization. This is something fertility doctors debate and discuss,” he continues. “Doubt me? Google ‘stress and infertility,’ and you will find a library of research on the subject.”
(We’ll save you the trouble; Akin is, and always has been, completely wrong.)
In addition to rescinding his apology for the comments that ruined his career and did incalculable damage to the Republican Party’s brand, he revealed how he thinks then-presidential nominee Mitt Romney should have defended Akin’s honor: By making a rape joke.
Akin writes that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney should have defended him by using Clinton’s indiscretions and alleged comment that one woman “put some ice on that” just as Clinton was set to serve as a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. In 2012, Romney denounced Akin’s comments and urged him to drop out of the race.
What Akin believes Romney should have said when asked about the “legitimate rape” comments: “[Bill Clinton] is giving the keynote speech at the Democratic convention in two weeks, and you want me to denounce a decent, God-fearing man for his inelegant comments about rape? No, not happening, and if the truth hurts, put some ice on it.”
Akin’s fantasy speech for Romney, which refers to a discredited allegation that Clinton assaulted a nursing home administrator in the 1970s, reveals the political instincts that crushed his career in the first place. Back in the real world, given a choice between Todd Akin and a wisecracking Mitt Romney vocally defending “legitimate rape,” or Bill Clinton, the most popular politician in the country, it’s not hard to guess with whom voters would side.
But Akin isn’t worried about that; instead, he’s upset that Politico “censored” him by retelling Akin’s anecdote with “[Bill Clinton]” instead of Akin’s original phrase, “A credibly accused rapist.”
Unsurprisingly, Republicans are less than thrilled with Akin’s return to the spotlight.
“Todd Akin is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and the sole reason Claire McCaskill is still part of Harry Reid’s majority,” former National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brian Walsh told Politico. “It’s frankly pathetic that just like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in 2010, he refuses to take any responsibility for sticking his foot in his mouth, alienating voters and costing Republicans a critical Senate seat. Worse, he’s now trying to make money off his defeat. The sooner he leaves the stage again, the better.”
Similarly, former Romney advisor Kevin Madden noted that “Todd Akin has no one to blame for his loss but Todd Akin,” adding that “Mitt Romney, from Massachusetts, won Missouri by 10 points. Todd Akin lost by 16 points. It’s fairly simple.”
Still, Akin does have his defenders within the party; former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee wrote an enthusiastic forward to Firing Back. Huckabee, who is also no stranger to alienating female voters, insisted that “[W]e can sit on the bus (in the back!), but they don’t want us to drive the bus!,” and explained that the GOP establishment was “still bruised that they didn’t beat Todd in the primary, saw [the comments] as their opportunity to take him out and select someone more palatable to their tastes.”
Yes, in Huckabee’s mind, the NRSC was just waiting for an opportunity to send Claire McCaskill back to the Senate.
And while most Republicans aren’t as vocally supportive as Huckabee is, their party’s official stance on abortion still looks a lot like Akin’s.
On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Republicans have been relieved to avoid devastating gaffes throughout the 2014 election cycle. But Akin’s return to the spotlight should serve as an unpleasant reminder that a legitimate political disaster could always be lurking around the corner in a party that can’t seem get past its fixation on the culture wars.
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