Todd Akin Says He’ll Stay In Race, While Republicans Continue To Abandon Him

Todd Akin says he's staying in the race, but his party is abandoning him.

The Republican reaction to Todd Akin’s controversial comments about rape continued apace this morning, with pretty much everyone who has spoken out doing everything they can to distance themselves from the Missouri Republican. It started this morning when Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown said that Akin should drop out of the race, which was quickly followed by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who did the same thing while calling Akin’s remarks reprehensible and inexcusable.  Despite this and more from within his own party, though, Akin claims he’s staying in the race:

Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin apologized Monday for comments he made about “legitimate rape” over the weekend, but rejected growing clamor even from fellow Republicans for him to abandon his Senate bid.

Akin, who’s been embroiled in an uproar since suggesting that “legitimate rape” rarely results in victims’ pregnancy, acknowledged he made “serious mistakes” in responding to a question about his stance on abortion rights in cases on rape.

“I made that statement in error. Let me be clear: rape is never legitimate; it’s an evil act that’s committed by violent predators,” Akin said on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s radio show. “I used the wrong words in the wrong way. What I said was ill-conceived and it was wrong, and for that, I apologize.”


But the six-term congressman, who bested two other candidates in a GOP Senate primary earlier this month, resisted dropping his campaign to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

“I feel just as strongly as ever that my background and ability will be a big asset in replacing Claire McCaskill and putting some sanity back in what’s going on in our government,” Akin said, explaining that no national Republican figure had specifically called to demand his resignation. “The good people of Missouri nominated me, and I’m not a quitter. And my belief is we’re going to take this thing forward, and by the grace of God, to win this race.”

That may be what Akin is saying in public, but he may be thinking something differently in private, because it’s looking like the money is going to start drying up very quickly. First of all, National Republican Senatorial Committee head John Cornyn is calling on Akin to “rethink” his candidacy:

Troubles continued to mount for Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) Monday afternoon when the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it was time for him to reevaluate his campaign for Senate.

“Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), referring to the Missouri Senate candidate’s comments that women who are victims of “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant.

“I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next twenty-four hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service,” added Cornyn.

Cornyn was not alone in his sentiment among Republicans. In an interview with WMUR on Monday, Mitt Romney said Akin should “spend 24 hours considering what will best help the country at this critical time.”

As if that doesn’t make clear enough what Cornyn thinks Akin should do, the NRSC has decided that it will not provide monetary support to Akin’s campaign outside of the minimal donation required to a party nominee under NRSC rules. To add insult to injury, the powerful pro-GOP SuperPAC Crossroads GPS has pulled what was supposed to have been a major ad buy for Missouri:

The conservative outside-spending powerhouse Crossroads GPS is pulling its ads from the Missouri Senate race, three sources confirmed to POLITICO.

The group had originally booked a new round of ads to start Wednesday but began canceling them earlier today. The decision comes in the wake of comments by Missouri Rep. and GOP Senate nominee Todd Akin questioning how often women can get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”

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

Indeed it does. I’m not sure whether this will cause Akin to change his mind or not. Given the fact that his closest advisers, as well as his top campaign officials, are all family members it’s possible that nobody on the campaign will have the “come to Jesus” talk with him before the 5:00pm deadline for penalty-free withdrawal from the race. However, perhaps the realization that he will not be getting any outside support in this race, while McCaskill has likely gotten numerous pledges of support from Democratic fundraisers, will be enough to get him to face reality. If not, then he’s likely headed to a lonely campaign in the fall, and a likely loss in November.

Of course, not everybody is abandoning Akin, the social conservatives in the GOP are rallying behind him:

Tampa, Florida (CNN) – While much of the Republican universe spent Monday condemning Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Akin for his comments about “legitimate rape” and abortion, one of the nation’s most prominent conservative organizations rallied to his defense.

Two top officials from the Family Research Council said the Missouri congressman is the target of a Democratic smear campaign and chided those Republicans who have condemned Akin.

Connie Mackey, who heads the group’s political action committee, said the group “strongly supports” Todd Akin.

“We feel this is a case of gotcha politics,” Mackey told reporters in Tampa, where the Republican National Committee was gathering ahead of the party’s convention next week. “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.”

“Todd Akin is getting a really bad break here,” she added. “I don’t know anything about the science or the legal implications of his statement. I do know politics, and I know gotcha politics when I see it.”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins fired back at Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a leading moderate voice in the GOP who called Akin’s remarks “outrageous” and encouraged him to drop his challenge to Democrat Claire McCaskill.

“He should be careful because based on some of his statements there may be some call for him to get out of his race,” Perkins said of Brown. “He has been off the reservation on a number of Republican issues, conservative issues I should say. His support among conservatives is very shallow.”

Mackey said that Republicans calling on Akin to apologize or drop out should get “backbone.”

This isn’t surprising. After all, Akin merely repeated something that this wing of the Republican Party takes as gospel. They are among the most radical of the pro-life leaders in the party, refusing to support abortion in cases of both rape and incest, and pushing for state and federal Constitutional Amendments that would define human life as beginning at conception. This time, though, it would appear that they’ve backed the wrong horse. Even if he stays in, Akin is damaged goods and the reaction to his comments inside the GOP, while in most cases being made for simple self-protection rather than a principled reason, show that the radical ideas of social conservatives aren’t going to get very far with Republicans as a whole. If these people were smart, they’d be pressuring Akin to step aside as well because, otherwise, they’re likely sit back and watch while he does real damage to policy positions they consider important.

Update: The Editors of National Review are calling on Akin to step down:

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.

The vultures continue to circle.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gustopher says:

    I think he really needs to stay in this race.

    That apology seemed entirely genuine, and not forced at all. The only way he can really vindicate himself is to face the voters.

  2. jan says:

    According to this twitter feed:

    Richard Grenell‏@RichardGrenell32m
    Breaking: Senior GOP official: Akin advisors making preparations for a withdrawal tomorrow.

  3. legion says:

    Why should he leave? Sure, it may embarrass the national GOP, but statements like this only improve his image to local voters. Making regular citizens more gullible and less well-educated isn’t a side-effect of Republican policies – it’s a feature.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    McCaskill is probably on the phone and begging Akin to stay in the race.

  5. jan says:


    McCaskill’s first lucky break was that Akin won the primary in the first place. Akin’s latest comment is her second one…

  6. Bleev K says:

    It’s ridiculous. If all the politicians who make repugnant statements have to leave the race, we won’t have an election in November.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Watching his close colleague Akin go down in flames can’t be a good feeling for Paul Ryan (or Romeny either, for that matter).

    But lets face it. Akin’s sin is not what he believes, it is being a little too candid about what he believes.

  8. al-Ameda says:

    @Bleev K:

    It’s ridiculous. If all the politicians who make repugnant statements have to leave the race, we won’t have an election in November.

    I’m a Democrat, and I hope Akin stays in the race (even though I think the voters of Missouri are stupid enough to elect him over McCaskill).

  9. stonetools says:

    The Republicans understand that Akin is poisoning the well for the national campaign. they’re trying to cover Ryan’s behind .
    Doubtless the Republicans want to retroactively un-endorse Akin.

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    We will know in the morning if he’s out because he has to drop out today.

  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Doug, I appreciate you pointing out that his point of view is not outside of the maintainstream of social conservative thought. His problem here with the power brokers wasn’t believing it, it was saying it out loud in mixed company.

  12. J-Dub says:

    He thinks you can’t get pregnant from rape because a woman’t body has natural protections against such things.

    His problem is not his beliefs. His problem is that he is retarded (and apparently unaware of that fact).

  13. Jib says:

    I know some Tea Party folks in MO. The TP is very big in MO and they hate the “establishment” repubs almost as much as they hate dems. Out of state pols and media people does not count for much with them, even if they are repubs.

    Who will replace Akin and how will they be picked? This is critical, if the person they pick is not as conservative as Akins, the Tea Party will not support whoever it is. Just as conservative means they feel the same way about abortion. Everyone running will be asked where they stand on this, and anyone who does not give an answer very close to Akin’s will be suspect. Locally, Akin resigning could make a bigger mess than if he stays.

    What a great break for McCaskill for this race to now focus on the most extreme fringe of GOP social policy instead of ‘big gummint’. I have been saying Obama is the luckiest pol in the world but I think Claire just bumped him off that spot.

  14. rudderpedals says:

    But if he drops out every other GOPer has a great big target on the back, there’s blood in the water, and GOTV is harmed. Some dilemma. This is turning into an exciting week.

  15. Murray says:

    The NR quote

    “People who make such remarks on television are typically capable of making more like them, or rather incapable of exercising the judgment to refrain”

    says it all.

    According to NR, the problem with Akin isn’t that he believes crazy things and is ready to act upon them. The problem he says it on television.

  16. Commonist says:

    Please stick to it.

    You verminous animal.

  17. stonetools says:

    Obama Administration’s statement on the issue:

    “While Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are working overtime to distance themselves from Rep. Todd Akin’s comments on rape, they are contradicting their own records. Mr. Romney supports the Human Life Amendment, which would ban abortion in all instances, even in the case of rape and incest. In fact, that amendment is a central part of the Republican Party’s platform that is being voted on tomorrow. And, as a Republican leader in the House, Mr. Ryan worked with Mr. Akin to try to pass laws that would ban abortion in all cases, and even narrow the definition of ‘rape.’ Every day, women across America grapple with difficult and intensely personal health decisions—decisions that should ultimately be between a woman and her doctor. These decisions are not made any easier when Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan treat women’s health as a matter of partisan politics.”

    (hat tip Mahablog)

    The Obama Administration knows how to go after the jugular, which is why the national republicans are running for cover.

    Haven’t heard the words “Biden” or “chains” today, either.

  18. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I seriously doubt Akin drops out of the race. Allow me to speculate as to why by following his thought process:

    1) The establishment was against him from the beginning and did not support him in the primary, why should he listen to them now?

    2) His campaign managers are his family, are they going to be telling him anything other than how great he’s doing?

    3) He only spoke “the truth” (or at least what he “knows” to be the true), so why should he be punished for that? (If anything, it’s the damn liberal media making a big deal out of nothing). This is clear from his statement looking to clarify what he had said:

    “I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.”

    Notice that he thinks this is no big deal in terms of the underlying dynamic of his comment. of course he understands he won’t have the support of those who support abortion!

    4) He has said many ridiculous things in the past (er, brave things) in the past, and nothing happened. Instead it was his way of showing how much of a true conservative he is. Why should this be any different. It’ll blow over, and to resign is premature.

    5) He has worked so hard for this election, bidding his time, bringing THE TRUTH to DC all these years. Who better than him to represent TRUE AMERICANS *TM from Missouri than him? This wouldn’t be such a big deal if those damn RINOs were not in cahoots with the liberal media.

    Step aside and let a real man work.

  19. sam says:

    Akin’s remark is a rhetorical arrow pointed right at Paul Ryan’s political heart: Paul Ryan’s pro-life views in spotlight after Todd Akin’s rape comments:

    Romney distances himself from statements, but his running mate once sponsored a bill that could have outlawed all abortions.

    The row over the “legitimate rape” comments of a Republican congressman has brought renewed attention on the staunchly pro-life views of the party’s vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan.

    Mitt Romney’s campaign managers moved swiftly to limit the damage from remarks made by Todd Akin, the Republican senate candidate for Missouri, who suggested women could not become pregnant from being raped.

    A “Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” the campaign said in a statement.

    But commentators on Monday moved to point out that the statement appeared to contradict the Republican vice-presidential candidate’s earlier positions on the issue.

    Ryan, a staunch pro-lifer, was a co-sponsor of a controversial House bill last year defining life as the moment of fertilisation and granting “personhood” rights to embryos. Abortion rights activist say the Sanctity of Human Life Act would have outlawed all abortions, restrict some forms of contraception, in-vitro fertilisation and stem-cell research.

    No wonder they want him to practice campaignus interruptus.

  20. Tea Dumper says:

    Whether it is global-warming denial, Akin’s absurd take on femine anatomy, Paul Bryan’s math where big tax cuts combined with smaller spending cuts are called deficit-reduction measures, cavemen riding dinosaurs, the never-seen shape of the Latter curve, or the location in our night sky of planet Kolob, today’s Republicans sure seem eager to embrace their own forms of math and science.

    All we need is a new generation of voters home-schooled by this moronic bunch.

  21. Tea Dumper says:

    @Tea Dumper:

    Laffer, not Latter; Ryan, not Bryan. Stupid Kindle keyboard.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    – Akin can drop out and be replaced after Tuesday. He would need to petition the court but I can’t see any reason they wouldn’t allow it (Anyone?). He would need to cover the cost of ballot reprints, and I’m sure the national party would only be too happy to cover his costs. According to TPM, the Repubs still retain the right to replace him as long as they act within 28 days.
    – If he stays in it will be because he gets a boat load of cash and support from the RTL community, in which case he will not be able to soften his anti-abortion stance.
    – If he stays in, the RNC will have to stick to their public guns and not support him financially, or national pols will be crucified. But watch Citizen’s United money come in through the back door. He will probably get just as much as if he had never opened his ignorant mouth. But the Dem’s will paint that CU money as having “Official Republican Moolah” written all over it.

    I have no idea whether he will stay in or drop out, but the dynamics are astounding.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    Does anyone know if he loses his house seat if he drops out?

  24. PogueMahone says:

    @Bleev K: It’s ridiculous. If all the politicians who make repugnant statements have to leave the race, we won’t have an election in November.

    Well let’s adjust the qualifier here and merely say that if all the politicians who make gaffes have to leave the race, we won’t have an election in November.

    If that were true, then you’d have a point. However, this isn’t merely an isolated statement. With vaginal probes and personhood bills etc., this is a systemic problem in the GOP.


  25. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    This guy’s an idiot.

    You can only get away with saying such stupid things if you’re a Democrat. He’s no Joe Biden, he’s no Nancy Pelosi, he’s no Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. He will actually be held accountable for saying stupid things.

  26. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Oh, and Obama apparently called Marco Rubio “Boy.” But that’s not racist, right?

  27. sam says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Oh, and Obama apparently called Marco Rubio “Boy.” But that’s not racist, right?

    Right. Now if he’d said, ‘Chico’ or ‘Muchacho’, you might have a case.

  28. The Q says:

    I love the line by his supporters that state that they want to bring “sanity” back to the Senate by replacing McCaskill.

    And that just about sums up the whole deranged state of the GOP the last 10 years.

    They are rapidly becoming an unhinged, dysfunctional, completely out to lunch group of infants.

    But they have been for some time.

    The baby boomers party…..its interesting to me how my generation would tax George Romney at 70% and his tax returns can be seen here:

    Fascinating that senor romney was tithing 22% and would regularly pay over 50% to Uncle sam of his taxable income.

    The fact that the US was not a dysfunctional shit hole when we dared tax the rich at “exorbitant” rates has been lost on the generation of dipshits, and the complete failure of the dems to make a case FOR taxing the rich has been absent since reagan the elder was Prez.

    Romney senor HAD to release his taxes since my generation demanded it and was naturally wary of the greedy elite because we lived through the history of the 20s and 30s.

    this generation yawns at the scandal of Mittwit and defends his using the legal deductions available without even questioning the ridiculously low capital gains rate he is paying.

    Oh, and Obama paying 20% on his income of 800k is too low as well.

    And we wonder why we have such huge deficits/

  29. sam says:


    Does anyone know if he loses his house seat if he drops out?

    Why would he? Is he up for reelection to the House in the coming election? If not, he would retain his seat.

  30. legion says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: If only Democrats could get away with saying stupid things, you would be on fire right now.

  31. Bill says:

    @al-Ameda: Florida elected a crook or most incompetent executive to the post of Governor in 2010. Yes anything can happen.

  32. Jib says:

    @sam: EVERY house rep is up for election every 2 years. Because he is running for senate, he can not run for re-election to his old seat. So unless he wins the senate, he is done.

    House reps run in gerry-mandered districts that favor one party or another. Unless you live in CA or WA which has open top 2 primary, who ever wins the primary almost always wins the general. So house reps can be very radical, both left and right.

    Senate is an at large state wide seat and MO is still fairly competitive state wide. You can get away with saying stupid things in a gerry-mandered rep seat that you can not survive in a senate race.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    I was just wondering if he was simultaneously running for house and senate, the way VP candidates (and maybe presidential) have sometimes run for their Senate seat as well as their VP slot.

  34. Lomax says:

    This is just a distraction and side show for both parties. It’s the economy, jobs, gas prices, and food prices.

  35. george says:

    @Bleev K:

    It’s ridiculous. If all the politicians who make repugnant statements have to leave the race, we won’t have an election in November.

    You say that like it would be a bad thing.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Lomax: LOOK at the CLOWN!!!

    If he is still running for Senate tomorrow eve, we will know he cares more about his political future than he does about the GOP (of course, in some people’s minds, that is one and the same thing!)

    I will say this, I have not seen a MO politician thrown under the bus so quickly since Tom Eagleton. I find this slow-mo train crash fascinating.

  37. bill says:

    cash your chips in todd, you’re not a democrat.

  38. C. Clavin says:

    Republicans abandon Akin…but they won’t abandon his views. He’s in the mainstream of Republican thought on women’s rights. The only thing he did wrong is say it out loud. His butt-buddy, Ryan, is not going to change his views. Republicans see women as second class citizens. The next 4 or 5 days they are going to call Akin a outlier. The history proves different.

  39. Me Me Me says:

    I predict he stays in. He has nothing to lose – it is too late for him to run for re-election to his House seat. Furthermore, I doubt he thinks that what he’s done is a big deal, and I’d bet his campaign staff are telling him to stay the course (unlike Akin himself, they lose 3.5 month’s wages if he quits now). And Huckabee was palpably trying to provide cover for him today, which makes me thing that the fundy-nutty base is telling him they actually approve of what he said, all he has to do is hunker down till Wednesday and then it will all blow over and the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson and Karl Rove will all shovel dark money his way to more than make up for what he’s lost from the RNC.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Me Me Me: I suspect you are right. And as the weeks tick by he’ll feel less and less obligation to the Repub establishment and more and more to the true believers, so who the heck knows what else he will say. And the Obama campaign will hang him around Ryan’s neck at every opportunity…

  41. Bleev K says:

    @PogueMahone: Fair point.

  42. sam says:


    @sam: EVERY house rep is up for election every 2 years. Because he is running for senate, he can not run for re-election to his old seat. So unless he wins the senate, he is done.

    Doh! I confused the Senate’s staggered terms with the House’s terms. Of course you’re right.

  43. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I think Bill Webster was tossed under the bus in fairly short order too.

  44. Jeremy R says:

    Dem surrogates are missing an opportunity here. They’re opposite GOP flacks who are arguing what Akin said was so egregious he needs to quit the nomination. The Dems should then ask them: if he’s unfit to serve in the Senate he must also be unfit generally to represent constituents, and then ask if they call on him to resign from the House as well.