Despite being browbeaten by both the leader of the Republican Party and Mitt Romney, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., steadfastly refused to withdraw from his campaign to oust Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Akin, who has been under fire since claiming that women who suffer “legitimate” rape can’t get pregnant, reiterated that he would remain in the race. He also passed a 5 P.M. deadline to withdraw unilaterally.
“Let me make it absolutely clear,” Akin told radio host Mike Huckabee. “We’re going to continue with this race for the U.S. Senate.” Akin continued, “I believe the defense of the unborn and a deep respect for life…they are not things to run away from.”
Akin defied calls to withdraw from Rush Limbaugh, who called Akin’s comments “stupid,” and Romney, who called the comments “offensive and wrong.” Instead, Akin put up a misspelled ad on his web page asking voters to “Tell McCaskill That Your’re Standing With Akin,” and featuring a prominent photo of a human fetus.
Threat to National Campaign
The level of pressure on Akin to withdraw was a clear sign that Republicans see a danger in Akin’s comments that extend beyond Missouri, and perhaps beyond even control of the Senate. As Care2 Causes’ Jessica Pieklo reported, Akin’s stated position on abortion is exactly the same as the Republican Party’s platform. Akin also teamed up with GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, which would have limited federal abortion funding to cases of ”forcible rape.” The law would have barred funding for abortion services in cases of statutory rape, and may have barred funding of abortion services for women who were raped through coercion or drugging.
Akin’s statement also threatened to re-open discussion of the Republican “war on women,” which has already been damaging to the Romney campaign (not to mention women). In a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Romney trailed President Barack Obama among women by a 10-point margin.
The calls for Akin to withdraw also threatened to alienate anti-abortion activists. Anti-abortion groups have stayed staunchly behind Akin.
“Congressman Akin, a longtime pro-life leader, has said he had misspoken, and no one is arguing that rape is anything but a despicable, horrible crime,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. “We are proud to support Congressman Akin.”
Tony Perkins, the leader of the extreme-right-wing Family Research Council, also warned that efforts to remove Akin from the ticket could strain the religious right’s relationship with the GOP. Those ties are already weakened by the general disaffection with Romney, who is a recent convert to the right-wing.
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