Romney Distances Himself From Akin As Abortion Takes Center Stage
Mitt Romney called the statements "insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong" in an interview with the National Review Online.
“I have an entirely different view,” Romney said. “What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it.”
Akin, a six-term congressman, caused an uproar when he claimed victims of "legitimate rape" rarely become pregnant because the female body has a supposed ability to "shut that whole thing down" during an appearance on a St. Louis Fox station which aired Sunday morning. Akin has since apologized for his statements, saying he "misspoke."
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), whose seat Akin is running for, took to Twitter Sunday to condemn the comments.
"As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I'm stunned by Rep Akin's comments about victims this a.m.," the incumbent senator tweeted.
Down-ticket GOP candidates have been quick to denounce Akin's inflammatory comments. Montana Congressman and Senate candidate Denny Rehberg said he opposes Akin's statements in "the strongest possible terms."
“As a pro-life conservative, a husband, and a father of two young women," Rehberg said. "I find Representative Akin's remarks to be offensive and reprehensible."
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan stumped in New Hampshire Monday. And while they planned to focus on the Obama administration's record on welfare and Obamacare, Akin's comments have put abortion center-stage in the debate and forced the campaign to take a definitive stance on a volatile issue.
The abortion focus comes in a week when the Romney team wanted to sharpen its focus on economic issues in the run-up to the Republican National Convention, which begins on August 27 in Tampa, Florida.
Now, Romney and Ryan will face questions about the volatile abortion issue and women's rights, giving President Barack Obama and Democrats an opportunity to further strengthen their advantage with women voters -- a demographic that already favors them, according to the polls.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to tie the entire Republican party to Akin's views and used the comments to rekindle accusations of a "war on women."
“The real issue is a Republican party -- led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan -- whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong," Wasserman Schultz said.
Paul Ryan, a devout Catholic, is particularly vulnerable to these attacks because he is on record as supporting Akin's "leadership." From Talking Points Memo:
Ryan and Akin largely agree when it comes to abortion rights. Both believe abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape and incest. Both were co-sponsors of H.R. 3, the 2011 bill that would have limited the federal abortion coverage exemption only to victims of “forcible rape” and women whose physical health was in danger from her pregnancy, closing a supposed loophole in health-of-the-mother exemptions conservatives have been crowing about for years.
After massive vocal protest from women’s rights advocates, the sponsors dropped the “forcible rape” language from the bill, giving up their quest to redefine rape in the federal code with little explanation.
The "legitimate rape" debacle played perfectly into the Obama campaign's strategy, which on Friday released an ad characterizing Ryan's views on abortion as extreme. The ad will air in Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, Ohio, Florida and Iowa.
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