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Entries in Todd Akin (25)

Monday
Aug202012

Rape Is Rape: Obama Criticizes Rep. Akin's Comments

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room today, where he was asked about the comments of Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who suggested that “legitimate rape” rarely resulted in pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” comments that are medically erroneous and from which Akin has since backed away.

“The views expressed were offensive,” the president said. “Rape is rape and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and it certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”

The president tried to use the comments to draw a starker line between his and Mitt Romney’s views on abortion and women’s health issues.

“What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, the majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women,” the president said.

“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 and that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party,” Obama said.

He allowed that Akin’s comments were not widespread within the GOP and his Republican opponents. “I don’t think that they would agree with the Senator [sic] from Missouri in terms of his statement, which was way out there,” he said.

Asked if Akin should drop out of the Missouri Senate race against vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill, D.-Mo. – as Senate Republicans Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have suggested he should do – the president said, “He was nominated by the Republicans of Missouri, I’ll let them sort that out.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug202012

Republicans Condemn Todd Akin for 'Legitimate Rape' Remarks

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin said today that he would not step aside despite calls for him to quit by two prominent Republican senators following his comments about "legitimate rape."

Akin, a Republican, insisted on Mike Huckabee's radio show today that he is staying in the race despite the furor over his comments that rape victims rarely get pregnant.

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said Sunday.

Akin apologized for the remark today and told Huckabee that he was "not a quitter," and still hoped to win the Senate seat against Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.

"I've really made a couple of serious mistakes here that were just wrong, and I need to apologize for those," he said.

"Let me be clear," Akin added. "Rape is never legitimate. It's an evil act that's committed by violent predators. I used the wrong words in the wrong way."

When asked today to clarify what he meant by "legitimate rape," Akin said, "I was talking about forcible rape and it was absolutely the wrong word."

Akin's initial statements sparked blowback from both parties.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass, and Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Wisc., who are in competitive races in their own states, released scathing statements calling for Akin's withdrawal from the Senate race.

Akin would have to withdraw from the race by Tuesday in order for the Republican Party to field another candidate before November elections.

"As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong... Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri," Brown said.

"Todd Akin's statements are reprehensible and inexcusable," Johnson tweeted. "He should step aside today for the good of the nation."

Mitt Romney this morning called Akin's comments "inexcusable" and "wrong," but stopped short of calling for his resignation. A senior official in the Romney campaign said the candidate would not call on Akin to resign.

Shortly after Huckabee's interview, President Obama took the podium at a White House press briefing and called Akin's views "offensive."

"Rape is rape. The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what type of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and it certainly doesn't' make sense to me."

Obama said that Akin's comments demonstrated why "we shouldn't have politicians, most of whom are men, making decisions" about women's health.

He declined to comment specifically on Akin. "He was nominated by the Republicans of Missouri and I'll let them sort that out," Obama said.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards denounced Akin's comment and it was an "egregious example" of legislators "making policy on women's health without understanding it."

The comments were quickly seized on by Democrats who tried to link Akin to the presumptive Republican presidential ticket, putting Romney and Paul Ryan on the defensive.

"As a woman I'm really concerned that Paul Ryan doesn't understand that rape is rape," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., said this morning on CBS, accusing Ryan and Akin of teaming up last year to pass legislation that would redefine rape.

"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., the Missouri incumbent who is fighting for her reelection said in a statement. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug202012

GOP Senate Candidate Says Pregnancy ‘Rare’ in ‘Legitimate Rape’

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, who opposes abortion in most cases, including rape, said in a television interview Sunday that it is “really rare” that victims of “legitimate rape” get pregnant.

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin, who is running against Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, said in an interview on the Jaco Report on KTVI-TV.  “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He added that if the woman does become pregnant, “the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”

McCaskill called the comments “offensive.”

“It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” she said in a statement.  “The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive.”

Akin later released a statement saying he “misspoke” and that he has “deep empathy” for victims of rape.

“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” he said.  “Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug122012

With Paul Ryan as Romney’s Running Mate, Democrats See New Attack Line in Local Races

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate for the presumptive Republican presidential ticket brought an immediate response from President Obama’s re-election campaign, but it could also have a trickle-down effect on several races in the battle for control of the Senate.

Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin, has made waves in recent years with controversial budget proposals and his plan to overhaul Medicare.

Democrats have attacked Ryan for several years, especially since he became chairman of the House Budget Committee in 2010 after Republicans won a majority in the House, but now that Ryan is on the likely GOP presidential ticket, the attacks take on a whole new meaning.

Besides the ramifications of Romney’s decision on his own race, there’s also the question of the effect on the Senate races, where Republicans are hoping for a net gain of four seats in order to take back the majority, while also taking the White House and maintaining control of the House.

ABC News has identified six key toss-up Senate races this year: Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia, Missouri, Montana and Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. While it’s unclear how Ryan’s presence on the ticket will play out in any of these races, it’s becoming clear that Democrats will be using this latest development as an attack line going forward.

Virginia

Polling has found the Virginia senate race to be neck and neck, and with the presidential race very tight there as well, both candidates have approached their parties’ nominees with a sense of caution — they’re open in their support, but it’s not always highlighted, and it’s not always unwavering. Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine has highlighted his difference of opinion with Obama on off-shore drilling, for example.

Like many other Democrats, it appears as though the Kaine campaign sees an opportunity to hurt their opponent, former Virginia Sen. George Allen, by tying him to Ryan’s plan. Allen was present at the Romney-Ryan announcement, and Kaine quickly released a statement hitting him for having a fiscal approach that would “gut Medicare resources for millions of American seniors.”

“By standing with Paul Ryan today, George Allen continues to embrace a plan that would force hundreds of thousands of Virginia seniors to pay nearly $6,000 more each year in health care. Budgets are about priorities and George Allen’s approach would gut Medicare resources for millions of American seniors, devastate investments for education and infrastructure that grow our economy, while defending irresponsible tax breaks for the wealthiest that ballooned our deficit and drove up our debt,” Kaine for Virginia spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said in a statement.

Missouri

Missouri is considered to be a safe bet for Republicans in this presidential cycle — Obama is unpopular and polling has consistently found Romney with a strong lead. Recent polls have shown incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in trouble (although Democrats have been buoyed by victory of Rep. Todd Akin in the Republican primary last week, as conventional wisdom suggested he was the easiest candidate for McCaskill to beat) and she’s been the target of attacks from outside groups for a long time.

McCaskill appears to view the Ryan announcement as an opportunity for a new attack line on Akin. Today she tweeted “the part of Ryan-Akin budget I hate the most? Cutting Medicare and then giving those cuts to the mega wealthy. Wrong.” Expect McCaskill, who is frequently described by her colleagues as a fighter, to hit hard with this new messaging.

Massachusetts

Republican incumbent Scott Brown has stayed away from Mitt Romney thus far; as a Republican running in a Democratic heavy state, Brown will need at least some Obama voters to cross over and vote for  him. Brown voted no on the Ryan budget in Congress, and he even went so far as to pen an op-ed in Politico explaining his reasoning, so he should in theory be able to withstand any attacks from Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic opponent, tying him to the controversial proposal.

“While I applaud Ryan for getting the conversation started, I cannot support his specific plan — and therefore will vote ‘no’ on his budget,” Brown wrote in an op-ed in Politico in May 2011.

“Why can’t I go along with the Ryan Medicare plan? First, I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support — and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays,” he wrote. “Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform.”

For now, it appears as though Warren is not attempting to tie her opponent directly to the budget, but reiterate her ties to Obama.

“The choice is clear,” Warren said in a statement. “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will work to make the rich and powerful, richer and more powerful. I’m standing with President Obama to work for our families, to invest in our kids, and to give our small businesses a fighting chance to succeed because I believe that’s how we build a strong foundation for our future.”

Nevada

Nevada’s economic woes are well documented, and the Romney campaign hopes that said woes will put the state in the Romney column,  and the same hope exists down ballot in the tight senate race between incumbent Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley. Heller voted for the Ryan budget twice — once in the House, once in the Senate — and Berkley’s campaign has already been attacking him for it.

For Berkley, who is under formal investigation from the House Ethics Committee after being accused of using her office to help her husband’s medical practice (she saved a Las Vegas area kidney transplant center, a move that appears to have benefited her husband who is a kidney specialist), the Ryan announcement could be a welcome opportunity to shift the focus. Expect Berkley to continue to charge her opponent with supporting a plan that “would end Medicare as we know it.”

Montana

Democrats have already begun to highlight an ad released by Montana Republican Senate candidate Denny Rehberg earlier this year in which the candidate specifically called out Ryan’s budget as potentially harmful to seniors.

“Rehberg refused to support a Republican budget plan that could harm the Medicare programs so many of Montana’s seniors rely on,” the ad, titled “Montana First,” said.

Shortly after Romney’s announcement, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) sent out a press release highlighting that ad, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t continue to play up the comments.

Wisconsin

This is of course the state where Ryan’s presence on the ticket is most likely to boost Republican’s chances of winning the senate seat. The Republican candidate is not yet known in this race- the primary will take place Tuesday and a challenger for Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin will emerge from a crowded field. Republicans hope Ryan’s presence on the ticket will boost turnout for Romney in the presidential race and turn the state red for the first time in a presidential election since 1984.

As it’s likely he’ll be campaigning in Wisconsin a lot, Ryan can be expected to hit the stump at least a couple of times for the chosen Republican Senate candidate, and his presence in the race could be the boost Republicans are hoping for across the board.

It’s important to note that the population of residents 65 and over in these states is within a couple percentage points of the national average of 13 percent in each instance, so there is not an obvious state where just in terms of numbers, Ryan’s presence could be a concern.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug082012

Todd Akin Defeats Self-Funder, Palin-Backed Rival in Missouri Primary

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(ST. LOUIS) -- Sarah Palin’s chosen candidate has lost Missouri’s GOP Senate primary.  So has the race’s self-funding front-runner.

Instead, Missouri Republicans picked Rep. Todd Akin in an upset victory for the Christian conservative, who is serving his sixth House term and who trailed badly, according to polling from Missouri.

Akin’s win comes as a surprise.  To many observers, it seems out of nowhere.

A July 23-25 St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll conducted by Mason-Dixon showed Akin lagging in a distant third.  In the apparent driver’s seat was St. Louis businessman John Brunner, a self-funding candidate who poured nearly $7 million of his own money into the race and enjoyed backing from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Brunner collected 33 percent, trailed by the Tea Party candidate, former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, with 27 percent.  Akin mustered only 17 percent and seemed well out of contention.

Akin, who holds a divinity degree from a Missouri seminary, had begun his campaign with a blunder when he said in June 2011 that “at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred of God” -- a comment made in response to NBC redacting the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance in programming surrounding the U.S. Open golf tournament.  Akin offered a semi-apology a few days later.

Steelman’s loss is bad for Palin and probably good for incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Palin cut a TV ad for Steelman that has aired repeatedly in Missouri since last week.  She traveled to Kansas City to campaign with Steelman, who was also backed by the national group Tea Party Express, at a BBQ on Friday.

Steelman’s loss breaks Palin’s unbeaten streak in GOP Senate primary endorsements in 2012; she picked tea-party winners in Indiana’s Richard Mourdock, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer and Texas’s Ted Cruz.  Palin also backed incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch in Utah.  With another endorsee, Rep. Jeff Flake, leading handily in Arizona, Palin will likely go five for six in Senate-primary endorsements in 2012.

McCaskill will now run against her evident opponent of choice.  Among his GOP rivals, Akin performed worst against McCaskill in possible November matchups tested by Mason-Dixon in the late-July poll.  Akin still topped the vulnerable incumbent by five percentage points. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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