Akin here to stay: Congressman not dropping out of MO Senate race despite rape comments

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., speaks during a news conference on the new Health and Human Services Department abortion rule on Wednesday, March 21, 2012
getty images

U.S. Representative Todd Akin, under fire for controversial remarks on abortion and rape, insisted on Tuesday he would not leave the Missouri Senate race, despite pressure from fellow Republicans and talk of who might replace him on the November 6 ballot.

Akin – a staunch abortion opponent – vowed to stay in the contest against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, indicating he represents a conservative movement that must be heard.

“We are going to continue in this race for U.S. Senate,” Akin told “The Mike Huckabee Show,” a radio program hosted by the former Arkansas governor, an Akin supporter and favorite of religious conservatives.

Akin’s comments came hours after he released an online video ad in which he again apologized for his claim in a weekend television interview that it was extremely rare for women to get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”

The fuss over Akin’s remarks sent waves of anxiety through the Republican Party a week before it reaches out to independent voters – especially women – at its national convention, where it will nominate Mitt Romney to run against President Barack Obama.

The Akin episode has given new hope to McCaskill, who in recent polls has trailed Akin by about 10 points in a race widely viewed as a barometer of whether Republicans can gain the four seats they need to ensure control of the U.S. Senate.

A Public Policy Polling survey on Monday had Akin ahead by one point.

To the dismay of many Republicans, Akin’s woes also have cast a spotlight on a key part of the party platform that delegates again endorsed on Tuesday: a call for a constitutional amendment protecting “human life.” The provision does not spell out exceptions in cases of rape and incest.

That is not the position of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has said that abortion should be allowed to end pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

Romney’s vice presidential running mate, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, has expressed a harder line on abortion, saying it should be allowed only to save the life of the mother. Amid the furor over Akin’s remarks this week, their campaign said a Romney/Ryan administration would reflect Romney’s position.

Romney and Ryan have joined Republican officials across the nation in condemning Akin and calling on him to step out of the Senate race.

Obama also strongly denounced Akin’s remarks, saying “rape is rape.”

The furor over Akin’s comments are a distraction in an election that Romney has sought to keep tightly focused on the economy and jobs.

Although religious conservatives are a crucial part of the Republican base, many party leaders say the party’s central message should be its conservative approach to fiscal issues like debt and deficits.

“Try as we might to focus attention on the big issues facing this country, every time we turn around, there’s a distraction, and this is a huge one,” said former Missouri Senator John Danforth, one of a group of current and former U.S. senators from the state who has urged Akin to step aside.

“It’s not that we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We keep shooting ourselves in the eyes,” he said.

WHERE TO FIND A WOMAN SUCCESSOR

Under Missouri election law, Akin has until 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. EDT) to get his name off the ballot for the November 6 election most easily. But his real deadline is likely September 25, the last day his name can be removed with a court order.

If Akin leaves the race, the Missouri state Republican committee would name a successor to run against McCaskill. Possible candidates include the two Republicans Akin defeated in the primary two weeks ago to become the Senate nominee.

Akin had 36 percent of the vote to 30 percent for St. Louis businessman John Brunner and 29 percent for former state Senator Sarah Steelman, but the party can pick any candidate, and many observers expect it would do so as the best way to leave the Akin flap behind.

“There’s probably a long list,” said Jennifer Duffy, who follows House and Senate races at the Cook Political Report. “You’d have to look at Steelman and Brunner, but they might be best off aiming for the fresh start.”

Other possibilities include former Senator Jim Talent, who lost narrowly to McCaskill in 2006 and Representative Jo Ann Emerson, considered a favorite because many Republicans think the party would best reassure women voters by running a woman.

Other names include U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler and Ann Wagner, a former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman, and Tom Schweich, the state auditor.

In another sign that he is not leaving, US News and World Report reported that Akin spent $150,000 on Tuesday for television advertisements in seven media markets.

But he will struggle to keep up with funding for McCaskill, especially after the Karl Rove-linked American Crossroads Super Pac said it would no longer spend the $4.5 million it had set aside for the race. The Republican Party also said it would hold back $5 million in funding.

McCaskill’s campaign is using Akin’s comments in its fundraising, and some supporters have reported big increases in their wake. Emily’s List, which supports Democratic women candidates, said it has seen a big jump in fundraising as the news of Akin’s comments spread.

“The number of donations for Claire through our (web) site increased tenfold following Akin’s comments,” Jess McIntosh, a spokeswoman for Emily’s List, which backs Democratic women.

Akin apologized again in an Internet advertisement called “Forgiveness.” But he sent a fundraising letter to supporters on Tuesday asking for donations of $3 or more.

“I have just begun to fight and I’m in this race to the end! We must work together to replace Claire McCaskill in the Senate,” Akin wrote.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Best nature spots for kids in New York…

When it comes to kids and nature, most U.S. parents agree: children should be spending more time outdoors. According to a recent survey by The…

Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.