Republicans may have called on U.S. Rep. Todd Akin to drop out of the Missouri senate race after he implied there is a difference between "rape" and "legitimate rape," but this week Akin decided that he would stick it out until the end. And suddenly, GOP leaders are perfectly o.k. with that.
Akin, who is challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, was leading in the polls before he suggested, in defense of his staunch opposition to abortion, that women who are the victims of “legitimate rape” are somehow biologically able to ward off pregnancy. Republican leaders, including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, distanced themselves from the congressman in the aftermath, while several GOP leaders publicly stated he should drop out of the Missouri senate race.
However, on Tuesday, the last day Akin could withdraw from the November Ballot, the congressman defiantly held a rally with supporters where he vowed to win McCaskill’s seat. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which previously released a statement condemning Akin’s comments and suggesting he “should carefully consider what is best for him, his family and the Republican Party,” on Wednesday changed its tune and hinted it may reverse its decision to abandon the GOP nominee because “there is no question that for Missourians … Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Sen. Claire McCaskill.”
Other leaders who previously said Akin’s controversial comments about rape and pregnancy no longer made him a viable candidate are now vowing to do whatever is necessary to elect him to the senate.
Missouri’s junior Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, who as the sponsor of the so-called Blunt Amendment isn’t exactly known for his support of women’s reproductive rights -- issued a joint statement with other Republicans in August decrying Akin’s comments and insisting “the right decision is to step aside.” But on Tuesday, Blunt stepped back from his condemnation, saying he’ll be working for the entire Missouri Republican ticket, “and that includes Todd Akin.”
He also implied he may be open to campaigning for Akin. His spokeswoman, in response to an inquiry about whether Blunt would hold fundraisers for Akin, simply told The Springfield News-Leader that she would let Blunt’s previous statement stand for itself.
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., also endorsed Akin this week, describing him as a principled conservative and calling on “freedom loving Americans in Missouri” to vote for Akin “so we can save the country from fiscal collapse.”
Both Romney and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., have been silent since Akin announced he would not forfeit the race. But it’s worth noting that while serving in the House, Akin and Ryan co-sponsored two bills trampling on women’s reproductive rights: the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which aimed to differentiate (somehow) between “rape” and “forcible rape” and the federal personhood bill that would seek to outlaw abortion by declaring that a fertilized egg is entitled to the same legal rights as human beings.
Ashley covers U.S. politics for the International Business Times, with a focus on civil liberties, women's issues and campaign finance. Her work has also appeared in The...