U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., was pretty much a man without a party Monday after making a ridiculous assertion Sunday that has nailed shut the coffin of his candidacy.
Asked Sunday in an interview whether he would support abortions for women who were raped, Akin replied, “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
If a physician truly told him that, it boggles the imagination.
It certainly boggled the mind of Republicans, who have scattered away from Akin with blinding speed. Sen. John Cronyn, R-Texas, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, has pulled the plug on $5 million worth of advertising that had been scheduled to be spent on Akin’s behalf in Missouri. U.S. Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., have urged him to drop out of the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the incumbent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who will receive his party’s nomination for president next week, summed up Akin’s remark as well as anyone when he said it was “insulting, inexcusable and frankly wrong.”
Republicans are hoping that Akin will withdraw from the race. That party would be allowed to name a replacement on Missouri ballots if he were to do so by the close of business today. The chances of a new candidate mounting a successful campaign to unseat McCaskill in just 11 weeks are very slim, but even that’s better than what Republicans can expect with Akin continuing to run.
Akin didn’t give the impression Monday that he was planning to drop out. Rather, he focused on damage control, saying he “misspoke,” calling rape “an evil act” that is committed by “violent predators” and pointing out that rape is “never legitimate.”
“I used the wrong words,” he said, “the wrong way.”
That, at least, we can all agree upon.
Abortion is a difficult topic in that whatever position you have on it, you’re unlikely to be moved by someone else’s argument. Akin, it’s clear, is opposed to any abortions, as he affirmed when he said he does “not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”
As with every American, he has the right to his opinion. What is dangerous, however, is when an elected official cites hearsay pseudoscience to defend a political position. The inference from Akin’s statement Sunday was that a rape victim who finds herself pregnant was not raped. That position is both indefensible and inexcusable.
If Akin is truly apologetic for his statement, he should demonstrate it by officially ending his candidacy.