Akin has also received statements of support from two prominent anti-abortion leaders – Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, and Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the Susan B. Anthony List. This opposing view raises the specter of a division among Republicans on the eve of their convention over the place of the abortion issue in the campaign. Many Republican leaders want to keep the campaign focused on the economy, President Obama’s weak spot, and away from divisive social issues.
The furor over Akin began on Sunday, when he asserted in a TV interview that pregnancy from rape is “really rare.” He was explaining his opposition to abortion with no exceptions.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said on KTVI-TV in St. Louis. Later on Sunday, Akin said he “misspoke” but stood by his absolute position on abortion.
Akin won his party’s primary on Aug. 7, and has every right to stay in the race. It’s too soon to say how Akin’s comment will affect his challenge to Senator McCaskill, seen as one of the most endangered Democrats in the Senate, especially after the flap over her use of taxpayer money to pay for senatorial use of her private plane. Before Akin’s comment, he led McCaskill by an average of five percentage points.
Now, with Akin still running, McCaskill likely has a better shot at holding onto her job than she did before Sunday, and if she goes on to win, it’s likely she will owe her victory to Akin’s comment on rape.