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My dinner with Todd Akin. His current struggle -- and what it means to you.
POSTED: Sep. 3, 2012
By Brian Camenker, MassResistance
Todd Akin is a Republican Congressman in Missouri who is running for US Senate. Up until now, almost no one outside of his state had heard of him. But I had.
Dinner in St. Louis
In September 2009 I was invited to give a MassResistance presentation at Phyllis Schlafly's three-day national Eagle Forum national pro-family "How to Take Back America" conference in St. Louis. It was the place to be! There were more conservative political figures than I'd ever seen in one place, from Mike Huckabee and Rep. Michele Bachmann to Rep. Steve King and even Joe the Plumber! (And many more.) Several hundred people from across the country attended.
The first night I was seated at one of the main tables for dinner. I happened to be seated next to Rep. Todd Akin.
It was a pretty long dinner, and we spent most of the time talking to each other. We talked about the conservative movement, political activism, families, fundamental principles, and other things.
I enjoyed it immensely. I've talked to a lot of "conservative" politicians, but few like Todd Akin. It became clear to me that he "gets" it. He is a hundred-percenter. He understands the battles we're in and he's willing to stand up and be counted. Especially for me coming from Massachusetts, meeting and talking with a smart, principled, pro-life, pro-family Congressman was pretty thrilling. If there were more people like him in Congress we'd have a much better country.
So last month when the six-term Rep. Akin won the Republican primary for US Senate I was thrilled. In addition, having that seat be Republican is a key to the GOP's strategy for taking back the US Senate. After the primary, the popular Akins pretty quickly became the statewide favorite to beat the pro-abortion liberal Democrat running against him.
The infamous gaffe
On August 19, fresh from his Republican primary win, Rep. Atkins appeared on "The Jaco Report," a half-hour interview program on the local St. Louis Fox TV affiliate.
However, at one point in the interview there was this question and answer:
Akin was trying to be sincere but it came out terribly. And there were two things that the media immediately jumped on. First, the comment about "legitimate" rape. He actually meant to say "forcible" rape (as opposed to "statutory" rape). And second, his description about "the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down" is widely disputed. Many authorities say it is not accurate. However, others, such as the Pope Paul VI Institute & National Center for Women’s Health support that assessment. Here's their Aug. 23 press release on that.
That afternoon Rep. Akin issued the following statement regarding what he had said:
"As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year. Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.
He also tweeted:
"To be clear, all of us understand that rape can result in pregnancy & I have great empathy for all victims. I regret misspeaking."
A few days later Akin filmed a campaign ad with an apology:
"Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them. The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness."
But apparently that wasn't enough for his Republican colleagues.
Piling on: Immediately pummeled by Republican establishment
Once the media erupted with this, it naturally attracted hysterical attacks from the liberal media and pro-abortion politicians, who sought to morph it into a purposeful assault on all defenseless women.
But as we saw, it's been the Republican establishment that's screamed the loudest against him, outdoing even the Democrats. They've called Akin horrible names and demanded he get out of the US Senate race.
Almost immediately, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Scott Brown, John Ashcroft, and a flood of other Republican elites (the list is too long to mention) were very vocal at the Republican Convention demanding Akin drop out. "Everybody in Missouri" wanted him out, according to Sean Hannity. Sarah Palin, usually a dependable pro-family advocate, said she'd back a third-party challenger against him if he didn't drop out. Ann Coulter called him "a selfish swine" for not dropping out.
Sen. John Cornyn, head of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, told Fox News that if Akin doesn't drop out, the $5 million set aside for the Missouri race will be withdrawn.
How bad was it? The Washington Post called it "a swift and relentless crusade against one of their own" by the Republicans.
Karl Rove was particularly venomous. He announced that his $100 million super-PAC to take back the US Senate wouldn't be giving a dime to Akin. Rove told BusinessWeek: "We should sink Todd Akin. If he's found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts!" Pretty strong stuff.
But Akin has never been close to the Republican establishment in Washington, and he said he has no intention of dropping out.
On the other hand, those who knew him best recognized that it was mostly manufactured hysteria and urged him to stay in. Strong support for Akin came from Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and many others. Also, Family Research Council, Phyllis Schlafly, and much of the pro-family movement has stood by his side.
Akin still strong in Missouri polls
So far, the hysterical fears of the Republican establishment that Akin would lose and bring others down with him don't seem to be happening. A Rasmussen poll on August 23, four days after the incident, showed Akin up by 10 points. Other polls have it closer. Personally, we attribute most of any drop he had to Republicans (such as Romney and Ryan) attacking him, rather than liberals and the media.
On Aug. 30 the Wall Street Journal reported that 77% of Missouri Republicans accepted his apology, a majority of Republicans thought he should stay in the race, and his favorability rating is going back up. The Journal also cited a 55% disapproval rating in his opponent. With the incident now behind him, indications have him coming back and winning this race.
"There's clearly a disconnect on Akin's candidacy between GOP leaders in Washington, D.C. and actual GOP voters back in Missouri," the WSJ quoted the polling company as saying.
Putting it into perspective
The Democrats certainly do things differently.
Let's all remember that Bill Clinton was actually accused of rape (by Juanita Brodderick) and of sexual harassment (by Paula Jones) during his campaign. The Democrats all stuck with him, and the Republicans barely said anything. And of course there was Monica Lewinsky. Then when Clinton was impeached, the Democrats continued to support him. And to top it off, during the 2008 campaign, Clinton said of Obama, "A few years ago this guy would have been getting us coffee." Everybody brushed it off.
We've lost count of the offensive and often racially charged things has Joe Biden has said (e.g., the Republicans want to put blacks back in chains). Has any Democrat called for his dropping out of the race? Rahm Emanuel called people he didn't like "retards" when he was Obama's chief of staff. How many offensive things has Nancy Pelosi, Al Franken, and Obama himself said since being elected? (Franken's once wrote a book titled, "Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat stupid idiot.")
Last year in Massachusetts, Congressman Mike Capuono told a pro-union rally in Boston that, "Every once in a while you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary."
We don't remember hearing a lot of apologies.
We certainly don't recall the Republican establishment saying much, if anything, about any of this, much less demand that the people not run for re-election. We suppose you would call it ""reverse hypocrisy." Or maybe just cowardice.
What it means to you
We think that a lot of Republicans are far more interested in placating the liberal media and showing their opponents that they're "reasonable" than standing up to any principles whatsoever. And in fact, there are a lot more "Scott Brown Republicans" to whom the pro-life/pro-family movement is mostly an annoyance, than most conservatives realize -- until times like this bring them out. And we'll certainly be seeing more of that over the next four years.
The bottom line is that Todd Akin misspoke during a lengthy interview and then apologized and clarified his statement. Given his record, that should be the end of it.