Heat turns up on Akin to drop out of Senate race

Todd Akin

The writing is on the wall for Todd Akin, the Missouri Republican who nominated for United States Senate. When discussing rape and abortion on St. Louis-based KTVI on Sunday, Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” Since then many prominent Republicans, including GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who is already being linked to the controversial comments, have condemned Akin’s remarks. Others — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) — have called on Akin to end his campaign. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has gone as far to say that Akin shouldn’t even bother coming to the party’s convention next week.

Akin tried to do damage control yesterday by apologizing for his remarks during an appearance on Mike Huckabee’s radio show, but it’s hard to see how this will make anything better (emphasis mine):

Huckabee gave Akin a chance to apologize for the comment, and he did — he said something that was “wrong,” and hurtful to rape victims. Good so far. But right after that, Huckabee prodded Akin to define what he meant by “legitimate.” Did he mean “forcible”?

Yes, said Akin. “I was talking about forcible rape,” he said. “I used the wrong word.”

While most of us are scratching our heads about the choice of words used by Akin — after all, what rape isn’t “forcible,” Dave Weigel notes via Nick Baumann that the term used here would exclude instances of statutory rape, for example. As apologetic as Akin may be, the word choice still isn’t that great and makes it seem as though he isn’t sincere.

Akin, who was the candidate Democrats wanted to go up against Sen. McCaskill, may be getting support from the Family Research Council, but that seems to be the extent of the sympathy for the embattled candidate. The editors of the National Review, a popular conservative magazine, have called on Akin to drop out:

Some voters may nevertheless find a candidate’s theoretical view so abhorrent that they cannot support him, and it is a perfectly legitimate issue for opponents to raise. Most Republicans who hold the view that unborn children have a right to life regardless of the circumstances of their conception will have the wit to explain themselves in a way that prevents most voters who disagree from vetoing them for that reason.

While Akin is a stalwart conservative and an honorable man, we regret to say that he inspires no such confidence. That is one reason why Senator Claire McCaskill, the sitting Democratic senator, boosted him during the Republican primaries with ads calling him a “true conservative.” She knew that she is the weakest Senate incumbent on the ballot this year and that her only hope was to draw a weak opponent. Akin won a three-way primary with a plurality of the vote; there was no run-off. McCaskill’s strategy is now paying off.

Akin has backed off from his remarks, albeit with the politician’s excuse of “misspeaking.” People who make such remarks on television are typically capable of making more like them, or rather incapable of exercising the judgment to refrain. We suspect that this same lack of judgment will cause Akin to blow past tomorrow evening’s deadline for him to leave the race and allow the Republicans to select a better nominee. We hope the congressman, who surely wants to see a Senate with as much conservative strength as possible next year, will prove us wrong.

Rumors are that Akin will drop out today, but should he decided to stick it out, he will have to do it without significant support from outside groups, such as American Crossroads, which has already pulled ads attacking Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).The National Republican Senatorial Committee, chaired by Sen. John Cornyn has also said that the $5 million set aside for the Missouri Senate race will go elsewhere.

If Akin hasn’t dropped out by the time this post airs, one would think that it won’t be too long before the plugged has been pulled on his campaign.

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