WASHINGTON -- The Obama campaign is, not surprisingly, unwilling to accept Mitt Romney's condemnation of Rep. Todd Akin's controversial remarks and move on.
Akin, a Missouri Republican who is running for Senate, said Sunday that women who are the victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant. In an interview with The Huffington Post on Monday, chief Obama strategist David Axelrod said the comments reflected the larger philosophy of the GOP presidential ticket.
He predicted that the public would find the remarks even more distasteful once it became widely known that Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), teamed up with Akin on strict anti-abortion measures.
"When you look at who Akin's partner was on all the anti-choice legislation, it was Paul Ryan," said Axelrod. "When you look at the legislation that would limit a women's right to choose, even for victims of rape and incest, that is the Akin-Ryan position. And frankly, by endorsing personhood amendments ... Romney has gone there too. This is the prevailing position of the Republican Party."
"I think they find Todd Akin's comment terribly inconvenient," Axelrod said. "It is very inopportune. But they are certainly not inconsistent, when Ryan joined with him and tried to limit the definition of rape to forcible rape. What does that mean? They are trying to run away from what has been their own position and yet, while Akin's proposition was particularly egregious and outrageous, on the underlining principle of whether you are going to limit a woman's right to choose, and how rape victims are dealt with and how they would approach this issue, they are very much in line with him."
Romney's campaign said he and Ryan addressed the issue during an interview with WNUR in New Hampshire on Monday. (This post will be updated with their comments once they become available.) Romney briefly drew fire for seemingly endorsing a fetal personhood amendment in Mississippi, which would have classified a fertilized egg as a person under the law. But both he and his campaign have insisted that he never backed the measure and was simply stating his belief that life began at the point of conception.
While some Republican strategists have suggested that Akin should bow out of the Senate race, CNN reported Monday that Romney would not call for him to do so, though he did tell National Review Online that he found Akin's comments "insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong." RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer, likewise, told MSNBC that a decision on withdrawal would be left to Akin alone.
As for Ryan's co-sponsorship of the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" -- which stated that only in instances of "forcible rape" would a woman be eligible to have her abortion covered by insurance -- Spicer argued that such positions were irrelevant to the presidential ticket.
"The top of the ticket leads," he said. "Mitt Romney didn't look for a 'yes' man, he looked for a serious running mate who has bold solutions to getting this country's debt under control."
In an email sent out by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Monday, Chair Patty Murray kept the politics to the Senate campaign, calling the comments "revolting" and not worthy of a senator:
Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin just said pregnancy from rape is “really rare” because, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
We must keep Akin out of the US Senate. His repulsive views are only a preview of the dangerous policies we’d see from him in the Senate—and right now polls show him in the lead.
UPDATE: 1:30 p.m. -- Obama for America spokeswoman Lis Smith released the following statement:
“While Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are working overtime to distance themselves from Rep. Todd Akin’s comments on rape, they are contradicting their own records. Mr. Romney supports the Human Life Amendment, which would ban abortion in all instances, even in the case of rape and incest. In fact, that amendment is a central part of the Republican Party’s platform that is being voted on tomorrow. And, as a Republican leader in the House, Mr. Ryan worked with Mr. Akin to try to pass laws that would ban abortion in all cases, and even narrow the definition of ‘rape.’ Every day, women across America grapple with difficult and intensely personal health decisions—decisions that should ultimately be between a woman and her doctor. These decisions are not made any easier when Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan treat women’s health as a matter of partisan politics.”
UPDATE: 2:15 p.m. -- According to tweets from Josh McElveen, WMUR's Political Director, Romney urged Akin to "spend 24 hours considering what will best help the country at this critical time." He also reiterated that he "can't defend what [Akin] said."
Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.)
"Well, I thought his comments were a little bit outrageous," she <a href="http://www.kjzz.org/content/1208/gov-brewer-akin-comments-little-bit-outrageous-doesnt-call-candidate-drop-out-race" target="_hplink">told KJZZ's Mark Brodie</a>. "I'm not in a position to [decide] whether it's right for the party to pull funding, I mean, those people there raise the money, they get to spend it however they wish."
"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," said Romney in a statement. "Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race." Earlier, from an <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/314452/romney-akins-inexcusable-comment-robert-costa" target="_hplink">interview with the National Review</a>: <blockquote>"Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney said. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."</blockquote>
Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.)
"He should be ashamed of himself to be talking about it in that way," Christie said. "It's stunning to me that somebody who's offering themselves for high office like that would have those kind of thoughts and use that kind of language."
Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.)
From <a href="http://mountpleasant.patch.com/articles/gov-scott-walker-says-missouri-senate-candidate-todd-akin-should-get-out" target="_hplink">Patch</a>: <blockquote>Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday that Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin should drop out of the race after Akin made controversial comments about rape and pregnancy. "Yes, he should step down. Those comments were ignorant at best and outrageous," Walker said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Sturtevant.</blockquote>
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.)
"He's got to seriously decide what's in the best interest of the party, what's in the best interest of the state of Missouri, and frankly, at this point, given that flat wrong statement, whether he can win," McDonnell <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/bob-mcdonnell-todd-akin_n_1818906.html?1345568504" target="_hplink">told The Huffington Post</a>. "I think there was a belief a month ago, when it was just he and [incumbent Sen. Claire] McCaskill head to head after he got the nomination, that it would be a hard-fought competitive race, with Romney at the top of the ticket and up double digits, that this would be a race that would be winnable for the Republicans," McDonnell said. "To say things that seemed to be so flat wrong and out of touch with both science and the people, I think it makes it very difficult at this point for him to win."
NRSC Chair Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape ... The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."
Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan Campaign
"Gov. Romney and Congressman (Paul) Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said. "Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/314452/romney-akins-inexcusable-comment-robert-costa" target="_hplink">Romney said</a>. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
"What he said is just flat wrong in addition to being wildly offensive to any victim of sexual abuse. Although Representative Akin has apologized, I believe he should take time with his family to consider whether this statement will prevent him from effectively representing our party in this critical election," said McConnell, according to the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-mcconnell-suggests-todd-akin-consider-his-options-20120820,0,5243455.story" target="_hplink"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)
"As a husband and father of two young women, I found <a href="http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/scott-brown-calls-for-todd-akin-to-drop" target="_hplink">Todd Akin's comments</a> about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. 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 US Senate in Missouri."
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)
"Whether he has mispoken or whether he has a position that we would have trouble agreeing on, I don't know that. I do know him and I do know his family, and I'm impressed with what they've accomplished. So that's the best I can do with what little bit I know," <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDsQkjnQx5Y&feature=youtu.be" target="_hplink">said King</a>. And later: "I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way," he <a href="http://www.kmeg14.com/story/19324372/rep-steve-king-on-the-campaign-trail" target="_hplink">told KMEG</a>. "I'd be open to hearing discussion about that subject matter."
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
"I have to agree with those, including Republicans, who have said he should give up his race for Senate," said Van Hollen on <a href="http://video.msnbc.msn.com/newsnation/48728017/#48728017" target="_hplink">NewsNation with Tamron Hall</a>.
Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.)
"Like Joe Biden's comments last week, I find Todd Akin's comments made Sunday to be just as outrageous and offensive. Such insulting and offensive remarks from Joe Biden and Todd Akin have no place in our political discourse," said Mack in a <a href="http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/08/connie-mack-cosponsor-of-forcible-rape-bill-links-akins-legitimate-rape-with-bidens-chains-.html" target="_hplink">press release</a>.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.)
Talent, who once held the Senate seat Akin is running for, declined to endorse Akin on Monday. "It's a decision he has to make," Talent said when asked whether Akin should step aside, according to the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-todd-akin-stay-in-senate-race-20120820,0,2849040.story" target="_hplink"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>. "I can't agree with anything [Akin] said," Talent later clarified.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)
"Now, Akin's choice of words isn't the real issue here. The <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/08/dnc-email-ties-romney-to-todd-akin-132522.html" target="_hplink">real issue</a> is a Republican party -- led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan -- whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong. I'm outraged at the Republicans trying to take women back to the dark ages -- if you agree, join me in taking a stand for women. Really, it's deeply concerning that Republicans continue to support legislation that is, quite literally, dangerous for women. Mitt Romney famously says he would "get rid of" federal funding for Planned Parenthood if he had the chance. His running mate, Paul Ryan, was one of more than 200 Republican cosponsors of a piece of legislation that would have narrowed the definition of rape. Can you imagine -- the same Republican House that refuses to pass a jobs bill jumped at the opportunity to make life harder for victims of rape? And what do Romney and Ryan think of Akin's latest statement? They've been trying to distance themselves from it -- but Congressman Ryan has already partnered with Akin on a whole host of issues that restrict women's ability to make their own health care decisions."
Sarah Steelman, Akin's Former Primary Opponent
Terry O'Neill, President Of The National Organization For Women
"That kind of rhetoric re-traumatizes sexual assault victims. ... That kind of talk, I believe, is intended to shame women," she told the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/todd-akin-rape-comments_n_1810362.html?1345468189" target="_hplink">Associated Press radio</a>, characterizing the remarks as "flat-out astonishing."
Mike Murphy, GOP Consultant
Michelle Malkin, Conservative Columnist
Joe Scarborough, Host Of MSNBC's "Morning Joe"
"There is a rule," <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/scarborough-reacts-to-akins-rape-remark-conservatives-neglecting-to-choose-the-most-electable-candidate/" target="_hplink">he [Scarborough] continued</a>, "that we conservatives have followed for a long time, and it's the 'Bill Buckley Rule.' You elect the most electable conservative. The person who is the most conservative and who is the most electable is the one you put on the ticket. That's the part of the equation that we're losing over the last three years. And it's making Harry Reid the majority leader."
Bryan Fischer, Conservative Radio Host
Tom Perriello, President Of Center For American Progress Action Fund
Petition By The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
<blockquote><a href="http://dccc.org/pages/denounce-todd-akin?source=2012.08.20_kw_all" target="_hplink">Sign your name to call</a> on Speaker John Boehner to remove Rep. Todd Akin from the House Science and Technology Committee. Republican Congressman Todd Akin told a Missouri news station: "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare... If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Someone who believes nonsense like this has no part overseeing science policy. Tell Speaker Boehner to immediately remove Rep. Akin from the House Science and Technology Committee.</blockquote>
Susan B. Anthony List
<blockquote>"Congressman Akin, a longtime pro-life leader, has said he had misspoken, and no one is arguing that rape is anything but a despicable, horrible crime. "Abortion supporters like Sen. Claire McCaskill are trying to use this issue as a smokescreen to hide from their radical, pro-abortion records that are out of step with the majority of Missourians and the American people. On the issues of taxpayer funding of elective abortion in Obamacare, protection of unborn girls being targeted in the womb solely because of their gender, and whether children capable of feeling pain in the womb should be protected, President Obama and Senator McCaskill have been on the wrong side, showing that they favor abortion on-demand, for any reason, up to the moment of birth, subsidized by the taxpayers. "If President Obama and Senator McCaskill care to focus on extreme positions, it is time for self reflection. It is time to answer the question why this president has recently rejected bans on gender selection and late term abortions. "Todd Akin, on the other hand, has a record of voting to protect human life. His opponent does not. Congressman Akin has been an excellent partner in the fight for the unborn."</blockquote>
Tea Party Express
<a href="http://www.teapartyexpress.org/5205/tea-party-express-urges-rep-akin-to-step-down" target="_hplink">Tea Party Express</a>, the nation's largest tea party political action committee, is urging Congressman Todd Akin to resign his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer said, "Congressman Akin's comments this weekend are not just unfortunate and inappropriate, but they are distracting from our main goal of defeating Claire McCaskill and taking the Senate gavel out of the hands of Harry Reid. At a time when our national debt is approaching $16 trillion, job growth is stagnate, and the Senate has failed to pass a budget in over 3 years, we need a candidate that is ready to help lead the charge for conservative solutions. "One of the lessons we learned in 2010 is that we need candidates who are not only conservative, but are capable of putting together a strong campaign against liberal opponents. Akin's frequent 'Bidenisms' are distracting from the important issues at hand. "It is critical that we defeat Senator Claire McCaskill in November, but it will be too difficult to achieve that with Todd Akin as the conservative alternative. He should step down and give conservatives a chance at taking back the Senate in November," Kremer concluded.