As the Republican Party attempts to make gains with women voters, Missouri U.S. Senate candidate, Rep. Todd Akin went on television and made a jaw-dropping remark about rape that is sure to restart debate about the GOP's alleged war on women.
In a Sunday interview on KTVI-TV, Akin suggested that when women raped an internal mechanism kicks in to prevent getting pregnant as a result of the attack. He's also put a controversial social issue front and center while Team Romney works to refocus voters' attention on the economy.
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," said Akin, who seeking to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill. "But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. You know I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."
Akin apologized Monday, but the damage has already been done.
Mitt Romney's campaign issued a statement that it disagrees with Akin's comments and that a "Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." Monday morning in an interview with National Review Online, Romney was more forceful, and called Akin's comments "insulting, inexcusable, and frankly, wrong."
President Obama condemned Akin's comments Monday, saying that "rape is rape" and that Akin's comments don't "make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me."
Romney has in the past said that he supports abortion in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother and was pro-choice when he ran for governor of Massachusetts. Running mate Paul Ryan, however, in 2011 co-sponsored with Akin a fetal personhood bill, and has said he supports abortion only to save a mother's life. Aiken later said he "misspoke" and appears to be laying low.
The incident sheds a light on areas on which Romney and Ryan aren't as in sync as they want voters to believe. The presidential candidate last week distanced himself from parts of Ryan's federal budget proposal, such as cuts to Medicare. It also provided an opening for Democrats to reinvigorate their charge that Republicans are bad for women.
"Now, Akin's choice of words isn't the real issue here. The real issue is a Republican party — led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong," said Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in an email to supporters.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, file)