Republicans up for election in 2012—from Mitt Romney down to the most junior member of Congress—don't want to talk about social issues. Their success is predicated upon talking about the economy—and then talking about the economy some more—and making arguments about why they deserve a shot at trying to jump-start the job market. But when a member of Congress says that in instances of "legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," the narrative is bound to veer wildly off-course. And especially when that less-than-eloquent member of Congress from Missouri is competing against the most vulnerable Democratic senator in the country, that is very bad news for the Republican Party.
Representative Todd Akin, who has now popularized the bizarre term "legitimate rape," has earned the scorn of politicians and commentators all across the political spectrum, and the call for him to drop out of the race against Claire McCaskill by tomorrow's 5 p.m. deadline has been deafening. Crossroads GPS—the dark money Goliath that was flooding the airwaves with anti-McCaskill ads—has canceled upcoming ad buys in the state, sanding down Akin's advantage even more. However, Akin defiantly said today that he's no quitter. We'll see about that.
This verbal disaster doesn't just cause problems in Missouri, or in the no-doubt furious offices of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee. In a week that was supposed to be the celebratory warm-up to Romney's coronation, filled with big-ticket fundraising and fresh attacks on the president, the ticket-topper now finds himself talking about the only topic he might hate more than tax returns. The discussion is not helped by his new running mate's connection—co-sponsoring legislation that would have narrowed the definition of rape—to the Republican Party's village idiot du jour, either. Democrats, on the other hand, love talking about social issues; Obama held his first press conference in months today in order to flex his pro-choice muscles for the crowd. As Romney and the rest of the GOP try to quietly drift back to the economy, ads and statements will continue to bubble up from Democrats, highlighting how one catastrophic interview can have widespread repercussions that last even after the news cycle is done with it—and perhaps even have a supporting role in tipping Congress or the White House to the Dems come November.
So They Say
"The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape ... 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 certainly doesn't make sense to me. What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making decisions on behalf of women."
—President Obama, reacting to Todd Akin's remarks in a surprise press conference today
Daily Meme: The GOP's Akin-Breakin' Heart
- Since Representative Todd Akin made his awful remarks about "legitimate rape" yesterday, his Republican supporters have been dropping like flies...
- ... even The National Review, which dared Akin to drop out of the race bytomorrow's deadline.
- Mitt Romney made a rare tiptoeing side-step away from the right by saying about the remarks, "like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”
- Conservative activists have been calling in unison for Akin to withdraw on Twitter.
- Republicans in tough congressional races—like Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts—have also backed away from the congressman.
- In the deepest recesses of the Republican party however, stalwart Akin supporters remain, including, unsurprisingly, many pro-life groups.
- The Family Research Council's PAC president said "Todd Akin is getting a really bad break here."
- Chris Loesch stands by Akin, saying that "what he said was medically correct."
- Erick Erickson showed his support by calling Obama "an infanticide supporter."
- Senator Claire McCaskill is one person practically begging Akin to stay in the race. Gee, wonder why!
- Despite the controversy, as Garance Franke-Ruta and Molly Redden show, these types of remarks on abortion are a none-too-seldom thing coming out of the Republican Party.
What We're Writing
- Are Romney's welfare ads racist? Patrick Caldwell says they do constitute not-so-subtle race-baiting.
- Amanda Marcotte analyzes how Todd Akin revealed the basic assumptions anti-choicers make about women.
What We're Reading
- Romney is warming up for the convention with a fundraiser-thon.
- Niall Ferguson is mad at Obama, and wrote a Newsweek cover story about it. Other writers have been busy proving wrong his claims all day.
- Jonathan Chait writes about the ever-blue entertainment industry.
- Ari Berman explains just what is happening with Ohio's early voting (hint, hint, it's racism!)
- And hey, come on, even Politico staffers must go skinny dipping in Israel from time to time.
Poll of the Day
In a new USA Today survey a majority claim they aren't any better off economicallythan before Obama was elected four years ago. But that doesn't seem to be hurting the incumbent, who still leads Romney 47-44 percent in the 12 states USA Today has classified as swing states.
For more polling information, go to the Prospect’s 2012 election map.