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Akin Fallout Turns GOP Economic Messaging on Its Head

Republicans face unexpected onslaught on social issues heading into a convention where jobs and debt were supposed to headline.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

August 22, 2012 - 4:57 pm
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“Paul Ryan and Todd Akin, like two peas in a pod, have endorsed the same legislation,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said on CNN. “…I guess a woman has to have black eyes and black and blue marks in order to actually claim that she was forcibly raped.”

“Here’s why I`m not that shocked that he’s not dropping out. He has stood shoulder to shoulder with mainstream Republicans and I would say that includes Paul Ryan,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said yesterday on MSNBC. “In other words, the new mainstream is really extreme.

They were partners when it came to the personhood amendment. They were partners when it came to redefining rape, outlawing contraception, and so why — he feels ‘why should I get out, I’m being picked on but essentially I’ve just been saying what a lot of Republicans are thinking.’ That’s true.”

Democrats quickly drew vague ideological parallels between Akin and Ryan as their evidence of a greater “war on women” culture in the GOP. But they are just as eager to use the scandal to take stabs at Romney, once pro-choice but now identifying as pro-life, with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

Dr. John C. Willke, president of the Life Issues Institute, wrote a 1999 article on women being unlikely to get pregnant from “forcible rape,” and defended that theory in interviews this week. “She’s, shall we say, she’s uptight,” Willke told the New York Times. “She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.”

Willke, a former president of the National Right to Life Committee, was named “an important surrogate” of the Romney campaign in 2007 “for Governor Romney’s pro-life and pro-family agenda.”

An Organizing for America fundraising email, with Fluke’s name in the subject line, went out to supporters Wednesday evening saying Romney supporters and advisers “stood silently by” while the GOP platform “in lockstep with Akin” was adopted.

“Without knowing me or my story, Rush Limbaugh called me a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’ on his radio show,” Fluke wrote in the campaign pitch. “Many Americans stepped forward to tell me they agreed with me, and supported my right to speak out without being verbally attacked. President Obama stood with us. Mitt Romney, on the other hand? He didn’t even condemn the remark, instead saying only: ‘It’s not the language I would have used.’”

The email also cited the original text of H.R. 3 and blamed Ryan for co-sponsoring with Akin.

“Akin’s comments shouldn’t be surprising. But this isn’t about him — just like it was never about me,” wrote Fluke.

Meanwhile, the messaging of the man behind the campaign temblor became more muddled with each media appearance he did today.

“Let me say that legitimate does not — should not be in the context of rape at all,” he said on NBC’s Today show.

When asked by George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America whether he’d get out of the race before a Sept. 25 deadline that would need a court order, Akin said, “I’m never going to say everything that can possibly happen. I don’t know the future.”

When pressed if that meant he was still open to getting out, Akin said, “Well, I have made the decision to stay in.”

“The word legitimate doesn’t ever have a good reason to be standing next to rape,” the congressman added. “There is no rape that is legitimate.”

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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