Romney calls on Akin to step down
Todd Akin is vowing to continue his race for a Senate seat despite controversy.
By EMILY DERUY
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said he will stay in the U.S. Senate race in Missouri despite calls for his withdrawal during a Tuesday afternoon interview.
“I haven’t done anything morally or ethically wrong. It does seem like a little bit of an overreaction,” he told Huckabee. Akin added that he has received support from other congressmen, but declined to name any of them.
Romney called on Akin to step down in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“As I said yesterday, Todd Akin’s comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country,” the statement read. “Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race.”
President Obama weighed in on the debate during a Monday press briefing, saying, “Rape is rape…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 healthcare decisions on behalf of women.”
The staunch anti-abortion conservative also drew the ire of Republican leaders for his remarks on the Jaco Report. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) have called on Akin to quit the race and denounced his comments.
Cornyn reportedly contacted Akin and indicated that if he were to remain in the race, the National Republican Senatorial Committee would pull the $5 million it had planned to invest in the contest.
But Akin’s interview with Huckabee and a series of ad buys indicate the congressman has chosen not to heed their wishes.
He issued a statement following the initial radio interview saying he “misspoke” and followed up with a new campaign ad where he apologizes, saying, “I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize.”
The spot is reportedly part of a larger $150,000 ad buy which is set to run through August 27.
According to even some within his party, though, there’s still time. There is a 5 p.m. CDT deadline on Tuesday for stepping aside without a court order.
Maricruz MaGowan, Republican analyst and Romney supporter, criticized Akin and says she thinks he will announce plans to withdraw before Tuesday’s deadline.
“There’s no other option,” MaGowan said. “He’s part of the Republican party, and the Republican party is not happy.”
“There’s no way to defend it,” she said of his remarks.
And Akin’s chances of beating Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill look to be shrinking.
“McCaskill’s odds have improved dramatically,” said Estuardo Rodriguez, a Democratic strategist who called Akin’s comments “egregious.”
Rodriguez added that they should cause women who might have supported his stance on the economy to reevaluate their choice.
Both Romney and Ryan distanced themselves from Akin, with the former calling the remarks “deeply offensive” during an interview with WMUR Radio on Monday.
If he withdraws, Republicans will have the opportunity to select a replacement, but if he remains, Akin would have until September 25 to submit a petition to be removed from the ballot. After that, he would remain on the ballot.
The controversy comes at a bad time for Republicans who are expected to include a ban on abortion, except when it endangers the mother’s life, in their party platform. Ryan also has ties to Akin. In 2011, Ryan, Akin, and other Republicans sponsored a bill that would have bolstered federal prohibitions on abortion funding, with exceptions only for “forcible rape.”
Akin had been polling slightly ahead of McCaskill earlier this month, and Republicans had viewed the race as an attempt to unseat a sitting Democrat and reclaim the Senate. This controversy, however, could jeopardize Akin’s lead and hurt Republicans’ chances at taking the Senate.
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