'Legitimate rape' Akin pushed to quit
21 August 2012, 09:42
Washington - Senior Republicans urged congressman
Todd Akin on Monday to quit the US Senate race in Missouri over his
inflammatory remarks about rape that distracted from the party's
nomination next week of Mitt Romney for US president.
widely criticised for saying in a television interview on Sunday that
women have biological defences to prevent pregnancy in cases of
"legitimate rape", making legal abortion unnecessary.
built on Akin, Republicans cut off cash for his campaign, which had
looked like a relatively easy victory against Democratic Senator Claire
President Barack Obama called Akin's remarks offensive
in a rare appearance in the White House briefing room, compounding the
The furore pushed the campaign debate
squarely onto social issues and away from jobs, which Romney has tried
to keep at the centre of his bid to win the 6 November presidential
Akin's remarks complicated Republican efforts to
capture the four Democratic seats they need ensure a majority in the
US Senator John
Cornyn, chairperson of the influential committee that raises money for
Republican Senate candidates, called Akin's comments "indefensible".
committee will withhold $5m in planned spending on TV advertising in
Missouri if Akin does not step aside, a committee official said.
recognise that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next 24
hours, congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him,
his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and
has fought for throughout his career in public service," Cornyn said.
Priebus, the Republican Party's national chairperson, was asked on CNN
whether Akin should drop out of the Senate race. "If it was me, I would
step aside and let someone else run for that office," he said.
condemned Akin for a "bizarre statement" that is "biologically stupid",
and said he would prefer that Akin not attend the Republican National
Democrats used the Akin remarks as evidence that Republicans are waging a "war on women", largely over birth control.
is rape," Obama said. Akin's comments underscore "why we shouldn't have
a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care
decisions on behalf of women", he said.
Akin, a Tea Party-backed
conservative who opposes abortion, said in the interview that the need
for abortions in the case of rape was "a particularly tough ethical
"It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors,
that is really rare," Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. "If it's a
legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole
thing down," Akin said.
Romney, who polls show trails Obama with
women voters, called Akin's comments "insulting, inexcusable, and,
frankly wrong" in an interview with the National Review online.
controversy took the spotlight away from Republican Party preparations
for the coronation of Romney as its nominee at the national convention
next week in Tampa.
The firestorm over Akin's remarks erupted as another Republican lawmaker, freshman congressman Kevin Yoder, came under fire for swimming naked
in Israel's Sea of Galilee during an August 2011 trip with other
members of Congress. Both events featured prominently on the national
television news broadcasts.
Akin said on Monday he misspoke. He apologised but said he had no plans to drop out of the Senate race.
good people of Missouri nominated me and I'm not a quitter. My belief
is we're going to take this one forward, and by the grace of God, we're
going to win this race," he told The Mike Huckabee Show, a radio
programme hosted by the former Arkansas governor, a favourite of
Akin was a no-show on CNN's "Piers
Morgan" prime-time programme on Monday night. The host said media
consultant Rex Elsass accepted an invitation for Akin to appear, then
cancelled at the last minute.
"We had his opponent, Democratic
Senator Claire McCaskill, booked earlier, and she cancelled," said
Morgan. "And then we booked congressman Akin to tell his story himself
... now we have an empty chair."
"Why he would say yes and then no, we can only speculate," he added.
a pro-Republican outside funding group linked to strategist Karl Rove,
said it was pulling its advertising from the Missouri race. The group
said it has already spent $5.4m in Missouri.
Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, also said Akin should consider leaving the race.
has until Tuesday evening to withdraw without a court order, or until
25 September if he produces a court order to take his name off the
If he did step aside, the Missouri Republican committee
would nominate a new candidate to run for the Senate. That candidate
would not have to be one of his two primary opponents.
Besides distancing itself from Akin, Romney's campaign said a Romney administration would not oppose abortion in case of rape.
would be a departure from the position of his vice presidential pick,
US Representative Paul Ryan, who has proposed legislation that would
outlaw abortion with no exception for rape.
co-sponsored a bill with Akin in the House of Representatives that
would have changed the legal definition of rape to "forcible rape" to
narrow access to federal funding for abortions. Critics said the measure
could exempt victims of statutory rape.
McCaskill is one of the
most vulnerable Senate Democrats in a state that has shifted to the
right since she was elected in 2006. Recent polls had shown Akin with a
10-point lead over her.
Akin, a six-term congressman from the St
Louis suburbs, won the Republican nomination to oppose McCaskill just
two weeks ago after a hard-fought three-way primary race.