Withering Support for Todd Akin, and Karl Rove Pulls His Ads

Aug 21 2012 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Opposition to  Todd Akin in the wake of his “legitimate”  rape comments is not going away – it’s growing in strength. It is safe to say that the GOP as a whole is not very happy with the intransigent Akin. It is not only the very influential Fox News that wants Akin to go away (after ignoring his comments entirely until forced to address them) but Sen. Scott Brown  (R-MA), and worse yet, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), who only happens to be the chairman of the GOP’s Senate campaign committee.

And now,  even an anti-abortion group, the Christian Defense Coalition, is throwing Akin under the bus. It has become evident to some conservatives at any rate that a little expeditious political triage is in order.

On Christian NewsWire the head of the Christian Defense Coalition, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney said “Congressman Todd Akin’s comment using the term ‘legitimate rape’ is offensive, repugnant and troubling.”

“Rape is always violent and criminal and can never be linked with the term ‘legitimate.’ Although I respect the record of Congressman Aikin, especially in the pro-life community, some comments are so offensive and indefensible that one must assume the full consequences and responsibility for making them.

“Congressman Akin can demonstrate he accepts full responsibility by removing himself from the Missouri Senate race.

“On a practical level, these comments will follow the Congressman throughout the entire campaign and not allow him to deal with the critical issues facing America and the failed record of President Obama.”

Others, like Mitt Romney and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), have repudiated Akin and his remarks. Romney’s campaign went from an early “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement. A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” and evolved into a much firmer “Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.” As Romney told National Review Online in a phone interview, “Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”

“I have an entirely different view,” Romney said. “What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it.”

Of course, Paul Ryan does not have an entirely different view, unless he has contacted Etch A Sketch fever. Paul Ryan agrees with Todd Akin. But Mitt Romney isn’t condemning Paul Ryan. As Claire McCaskill told Morning Joe, ” this statement is a window into Todd Akin’s mind.” It is also a window into Paul Ryan’s, and ultimately, if he accepts Ryan’s views without comment or condemnation, Mitt Romney’s.

Michael Keegan, president of PFAW addressed this issue in Huffington Post: ” Mitt Romney is outraged! He’s insulted! He’s offended! Why? A Republican Senate candidate dared to state a position on choice that is exactly the same as that of Romney’s own running mate.”  As Keegan says, “Romney can feign all the outrage he wants at Rep. Akin’s misogynistic pseudo-science. But until he can draw a clear distinction between Akin’s policies and his own, his protests will ring hollow.”

Nor is Todd Akin without allies. The AFA’s Director of Issues Analysis, Bryan Fischer, says Akin is “absolutely right” and manages to bungle his analysis of the issues by bringing up ” forcible”  rape again:

The FRC, hate group that it is, also jumped to his defense. They give him a 100 percent rating and Connie Mackey, the president of the FRC Action PAC said, “We support him fully and completely,”

Tony Perkins warned Sen. Scott Brown, saying of the man who replaced Ted Kennedy:: ‘He has been off the reservation on a number of Republican issues, conservative issues I should say. His support among conservatives is very shallow.'”

From BuzzFeed:

“We feel this is a case of gotcha politics,” Mackey told reporters outside of the Republican National Committee’s platform committee discussions. “He has been elected five times in that community in Missouri. They know who Todd Akin is. We know who Todd Akin is. We’ve worked with him up on the Hill. He’s a defender of life. He’s a defender of families and this just a controversy built up, I think, it looks as though, to support his opposition. Claire Mccaskill on the other hand, has supported planned parenthood all these years, which is under investigation for use of funds, for cover up on statuatory rape and I think that Todd Akin is getting a really bad break here.”

(You can see Akin’s other conservative defenders here)

Rape victims aren’t getting the bad break…Todd Akin is getting the bad break? Leave it to the FRC. They ARE a hate group, after all. Hate is what they do. Well, that and lie and distort. But mostly hate. They’re really, really good at hate. And lying. You get the point.

What’s at issue here for Republicans is how much of an issue this is going to be allowed to be. Democrats aren’t going to let this go away, nor should they. This is the position held by the Republican vice presidential candidate, after all and this must be made clear. Romney repudiates it in words, but he supports it in action by having picked Ryan as his running mate. Romney excels at mixed messages but is this a mixed message he can afford? Shaking the Etch A Sketch won’t make Akin and his words go away. It won’t make Paul Ryan go away.

The truly alarming thing is that Akin seems to still be leading in the polls, which says something about Missouri voters (that can also be said of voters in other states, obviously). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports an almost unbelievable fact: “A telephone poll conducted on Monday night by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling showed Akin still leading incumbent U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill by one-point, 44 to 43 percent, despite the growing controversy over his remarks that women can somehow avoid pregnancy after forced sex” even though “PPP said 75 percent of Missourians polled thought Akin’s comments were ‘inappropriate.'”

Fischer may try to bully Romney around to his point of view but in the end, none of this may matter. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS is the decider in this case, and Politico reports that Rove’s Crossroads GPS is “pulling its ads” from Missouri.

Contacted about the decision to withdraw its resources from Missouri, Crossroads spokesman Nate Hodson responded: “The act speaks for itself.”

Yes, so does the $5.4 million already spent.*

As PR Watch concludes,

If Akin does drop out of the race on Tuesday, it will be another sign of the extraordinary power of these shadowy outside groups, particularly secretly-funded operations like Crossroads GPS, in the post-Citizens United world. As the saying goes, he who controls the purse strings can call the shots.”

Akin may remain defiant but he fails to understand that he did not just shoot himself in the foot, but other Republican candidates and even the entire Republican agenda, and as long as he hangs on he will keep himself – and his position – in the news. That is not something Fox News wants, given how hard they tried to avoid reporting it in the first place. I wouldn’t want to venture too far into Rove’s reptilian mind but it’s clear that he’s decided the Missouri Republican is a distraction the GOP cannot afford.

* Other big spenders on Akin’s behalf, as PR Watch reminds us, have been Americans for Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the 60 Plus Association.

Comments are off for this post