Even before his now-infamous comments on rape, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., presented Senate Republican leaders with a familiar problem. In O’Donnell, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Ken Buck in Colorado, the 2010 Republican primaries and accompanying grassroots support foisted upon the national party aggressively conservative candidates whose candidacies Republican strategists believe cost them those races and a shot at Senate control.
The difference this time is the speed, intensity, and coordination with which GOP leaders have moved to push Akin out of the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and Senate Republican leaders closely coordinated responses Monday, setting the tone for their party…
Once Akin won the primary, however, GOP aides say that the party backed him and worked with his team. But barely two weeks into the general-election campaign, Akin committed a series of gaffes. He called a McCaskill campaign website attacking his record accurate, admitted not knowing what was in a farm bill important to his state, suggested reconsideration of civil-rights laws, and called a federal school-lunch program unconstitutional. Akin’s recent statement that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy, while uniquely offensive, was just the worst in a series of statements advertising his unsuitability and the final straw that caused GOP leaders to conclude that he is unelectable against even the extremely vulnerable McCaskill.
[F]or now, Romney and Ryan will be forced to fight on a new front in their battle against Obama, on ground that’s traditionally unfavorable to them. Among women, Republicans already are on the wrong side of the gender gap. A mid-July poll from the Pew Research Center found Romney and Obama in a dead heat among men, but the president leading among women, 56 percent to 37 percent.
The gap between Romney and Obama is particularly jarring among college-educated women. An early August WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll found the president winning 61 percent of the group’s vote; Romney claimed only 35 percent. In six recent state surveys by Quinnipiac University, at least 54 percent of women with a college degree supported Obama. The high-water mark was Pennsylvania, where Obama had the backing of 66 percent of them.
Generally, women with a degree are more inclined to support abortion rights. In other words, the Akin controversy might have exacerbated an existing problem for the GOP ticket.
Conservative Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa, posted a tweet on his congressional website Tuesday saying, “The leftist media, paid in ca$h by George Soros, is dictating the response of leading Republicans. How can the American Dream survive?”
King told KMEG-TV in Iowa on Monday that Akin is “a strong Christian man, with a wonderful family” and said the election should be about Akin’s record.
“I’m seeing the same thing, petty personal attacks substituting for strong policy,” he said, adding that pregnancies from rape are “really rare,” in an interview circulated by the Democratic National Committee.
Tim Wildmon, president of the conservative American Family Association, said in a statement that the controversy had been overblown and should be forgotten, since Akin has apologized.
Senate Republicans seemed to make clear Tuesday that they are cutting Rep. Todd Akin off from party support for a bizarre comment about rape and pregnancy —but if history is any indicator that resolve may not be long lived…
The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which helps recruit and fund senate candidates for the GOP, went so far as to bluntly warn Akin he would be on his own financially and that they would not make good on plans to advertise on his behalf.
Still, if he’s able to weather the current storm and stay within striking distance of McCaskill, Democratic and Republican operatives alike have questioned how long that resolve would last.
And while Republicans continue to insist they won’t back track, history seems to suggest they haven’t always stood firm against intransigent candidates.
Unless he changes his mind, the senate seat that was ripe for Republican picking will almost assuredly remain in Democratic hands. But this leaves a minor dilemma for Democrats.
In the past few days, Republicans and conservative commentators have harshly condemned Akin. This has provided Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., with a treasure trove of material to use in ads over the next few months portraying Akin as “too extreme even for his own party.”
At the same time, President Obama and national Democrats will want to tie Akin to the rest of the Republican party, especially to Romney. But if McCaskill runs ads featuring Republicans slamming Akin, it will undermine that strategy.
Republicans on Tuesday decided they will call for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion without specific exceptions for rape or incest, a position at odds with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Republican Party leaders decided to include that position during a party meeting Tuesday, two GOP officials confirmed to The Associated Press. The language is the same as it’s been since 1984, and the platform is set to be officially adopted Monday. But this year, it comes as GOP officials are calling on Missouri Rep. Todd Akin to quit his Senate bid after he made inflammatory comments about rape. Akin, asked in a local TV interview aired Sunday if he opposes abortion in cases of rape, said a woman’s body is able to prevent pregnancy in what he called “a legitimate rape.”
In a Sunday statement condemning Akin’s remarks, Romney said his administration would not oppose abortion in cases of rape. That puts him at odds with his party’s official line.