A number of prominent Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, sharply rebuked Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) following his comment that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant because the “female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”
According to Reuters, U.S. Senator John Cornyn, chairman of the influential committee that raises funds for Republican Senate candidates, called Akin’s comments “indefensible.”
“I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next 24 hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service,” Cornyn said.
The Republican National Committee chairman called on Rep. Todd Akin Monday to exit the U.S. Senate race in Missouri, even urging the congressman not to attend the party’s convention next week in Tampa, reports CNN.
“I would prefer that Todd Akin do the right thing for our party and our candidates, and I would prefer him not come,” Reince Priebus said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
“If it was me, and I wouldn’t say anything that dumb as he has, but if it was me, and I had an opportunity to let someone else run to actually give ourselves a better chance of winning, I would step aside,” Priebus said.
Referring to Akin’s statement as “biologically stupid” and “bizarre,” Priebus on Monday said he’s “hopeful” the congressman hears the numerous calls for his departure from the race.
“This is not mainstream talk that he’s referring to and his descriptions of whatever an illegitimate rape is. We’re hoping he hears these things,” Priebus said.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who polls show trails President Barack Obama with women voters, called Akin’s comments “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly wrong” in an interview with the National Review online.
Even President Obama in a rare appearance in the White House briefing room that seemed aimed at capitalizing on the Republicans’ discomfort, called Akin’s remarks offensive.
“The views expressed were offensive,” said Obama. “Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me. So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.”
According to The Huff Post, President Obama did not call on Akin to leave the race, as some Republicans have done. “He was nominated by the Republicans in Missouri,” he said, “I will let them sort that out.” He did, however, use the opportunity to contrast his approach toward women’s health care with that of the GOP.
“Although these particular comments have led Governor Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions, or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape, I think those are broader issues,” Obama said. “And that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party.”
However, Akin told Mike Huckabee on Monday that he has no plans to drop out of the Missouri Senate race.
“I don’t know that I’m the only person in public office who suffered from foot in mouth disease here,” he said. “This was a very, very serious error.”
“On the other hand, there are so many good people in Missouri who nominated me,” he added. “I feel just as strongly as ever that my background and ability will be a big asset in replacing [Sen.] Clare McCaskill and putting some sanity back in our government. I’m not a quitter, and my belief is we’re going to take this thing forward, and by the grace of God we’re going to win this race.”
In an interview with KTVI-TV on Sunday, Todd Akin, the GOP Senate nominee, was asked if he supported abortion in the case of rape.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
The comments provoked howls of outrage from Democrats and women’s rights organizations.