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Missouri congressman's abortion comment causes uproar

August 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Congressman Todd Akin apologized Monday and says he misspoke following Sunday interview comments about "legitimate rape" and abortions. His comments have turned the Missouri Senate race upside down and put the politics of abortion back in the spotlight.

Akin's controversial comment has shifted the political focus to abortion and women's rights. The Romney-Ryan presidential campaign is trying to distance itself from the senate candidate, who's in a key race.

Akin is trying to backtrack and explain his controversial statement, but the damage to his political future may already be done.

In an interview with a St. Louis television station, Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin, the GOP candidate in a hotly contested Senate race, made an explosive claim when asked whether abortion should be outlawed for rape victims.

"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," said Akin in Sunday's interview.

Democratic opponent Senator Claire McCaskill pounced: "This is not somebody we want speaking for us and our values on the floor of the United States Senate."

So did Republicans. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown said Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign his nomination.

Monday, Akin scrambled to explain his comment, first saying he "misspoke," then apologizing in a radio interview with Mike Huckabee.

"Let me be clear: Rape is never legitimate. What I said was ill-conceived and it was wrong, and for that I apologize," said Akin Monday.

"As a survivor of something so heinous as sexual assault, to say something like that, it sets me back," said Lavinia Masters, an assault survivor and victims advocate.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Akin's comments offensive. As the GOP tries to appeal to more women, the Romney-Ryan campaign wants voters to know it does not agree with Akin, and if elected, they would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.

"The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape," said President Obama.

The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee head, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, said Akin should take 24 hours to consider "what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party and the values that he cares about and has fought for."

Despite calls for Akin to bow out of the Senate race, he says he has no intention of doing so.

"I'm not a quitter and my belief is we're going to take this thing forward," said Akin.

The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee withdrew $5 million in advertising planned for the Missouri race. Democrat Claire McCaskill's campaign seems to favor a matchup against Akin. McCaskill has run statewide TV ads painting Akin as too conservative, even for Missouri.


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