Senate candidate Todd Akin says he misspoke about rape in interview

Sunday, August 19, 2012 | 7:14 p.m. CDT; updated 7:24 p.m. CDT, Sunday, August 19, 2012

ST. LOUIS — Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, the conservative Republican U.S. Senate candidate, quickly backed off comments that aired earlier Sunday, in which he told an interviewer that a woman's body "has ways" to prevent pregnancy during rape and that such pregnancies are "really rare."

Akin, a six-term congressman running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, was asked in an interview that aired Sunday on St. Louis television station KTVI if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.

"It seems to me first of all from what I understand from doctors that's really rare," Akin said. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin said of a rape victim's chances of becoming pregnant.

He also said he would prefer that punishment for rape be focused on the rapist and not "attacking the child."

Akin said in an emailed statement later Sunday that he "misspoke" during the interview, though the statement did not say specifically which points.

"In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," Akin's statement said. "Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve."

Akin also said in the statement he believes "deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action."

Akin was interviewed on KTVI's "The Jaco Report" and also talked about numerous campaign issues, such as voter ID laws, the economy and Medicare. KTVI said the interview was conducted earlier in the week.

McCaskill, who is seeking a second term, said in an emailed statement Sunday that she found the comments "offensive."

"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," McCaskill said. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."

This month, Akin won the state's Republican U.S. Senate primary by a comfortable margin of victory. During the primary, Akin enhanced his standing with TV ads in which former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee praised him as "a courageous conservative" and "a Bible-based Christian" who "supports traditional marriage" and "defends the unborn."

Akin, a former state lawmaker who first won election to the U.S. House in 2000, also has a long-established base among evangelical Christians and was endorsed in the primary by more than 100 pastors.

Within hours of Akin's win, McCaskill had cast him as a conservative extremist who would jeopardize seniors' health care and retirement savings while putting college out of reach for all but the rich.

Akin countered by portraying McCaskill — one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the nation — as a budget-busting, tax-hiking, big-spending liberal.

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James Terry August 19, 2012 | 9:55 p.m.

Just when you think the Republicans have recruited the most dim-witted hayseed ignoramus on the planet, along comes a prodigy to set the bar lower... Welcome Todd Akin!

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote August 19, 2012 | 9:58 p.m.

Ah the classic "misspoke". I'm sure his base knew exactly what he meant.
In regards to calling McCaskill a budget buster, perhaps she is based on one's definition of a budget buster. However, in Mr. Akin's time in office, he has voted for legislation that has added Trillions of dollars of more debt than McCaskill.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 20, 2012 | 9:34 a.m.

No arguments to stick up for Akin here. However, these are off the cuff remarks in an interview. I will remind you that we have the leader of the US Senate lying out his you know what on the Senate floor. We have the president telling business owners they aren't doing enough, even though they already carry a huge burden for our society in prepared remarks. IMHO, this pandering to the problematic in our society and class warfare to get elected is exponentially more detrimental to society than any of these other remarks!!! Not to mention the vice president using slave imagery to scare folks in Virginia, again in a speech that was prepared. So, maybe we shouldn't play gafforama on this one... The Dem house is clearly glass, while the R's might have a window or two ;-)

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble August 20, 2012 | 10:24 a.m.

Mike, regarding "off the cuff remarks" (funny, to be using the same exact verbiage as Akin's PR folks), I don't see how that's possible. This was an articulation of an understanding of how something biological works, and is wrong on multiple levels - biological, logical, and factual. For someone who serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, the first level of wrongness is unacceptable. For someone in his position of power and decision-making, the second level of wrongness is unacceptable. And finally, he's wrong on the documented history as well - studies have shown that pregnancy is more likely in cases of rape than in the average consensual copulation (the last study I saw on this topic indicated 6% to 3%, respectively).

So this is not "off the cuff" - this is someone who misunderstands science, has bad judgment, and is ignorant of documented reality, yet is making claims about all of those matters to the media. That's important, and not simply a "gaffe".

"Everybody's doing it" is not a fit defense for any mature person to posit. Your editorial, colorful interpretations of others' words have no value here beyond distraction and propaganda.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 20, 2012 | 12:13 p.m.

Oh, Kevin. Try as you might, you can't spin this one any worse than it already is. I said from the get go that there is no defense for what he said. However, he said what he did in an interview. That is different than what you say in prepared remarks on the Senate floor or a prepared speech. You talk about position and power, in the Senate, none are more powerful than the leader of the Senate who took prepared remarks to the Senate floor and lied! A prepared lie is worse than an ignorant remark in an interview. Now, add the prepared remarks of the president and vice president, remember your power remarkse here, that are almost as disgraceful but come from much higher positions of power and responsibility and playing gafforama is not wise.

Incidentally, do you know how many open press interviews Owebama has had this year? One. Hmmm... He has had time to go on The View 4 times, he goes on entertainment tonight to reach your fellow Dem voters where they get their news from, but he can't open himself up to the interview process by an open press core. Again, you have no room...

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble August 20, 2012 | 2:29 p.m.

It's "press corps", Mike. And I'm not a Democrat.

You've now twice said there's no defense for what Akin said, then defended it ("offhand remarks", "interview"). Do you not see qualifiers and distractions as defenses? Do you believe that Akins misrepresented his beliefs in the interview, despite decades of evidence to the contrary? Do the completely unrelated statements of others make Akins' statements less wrong? If not, what is your motive?

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 20, 2012 | 3:39 p.m.

I am dumfounded that Akin, with his time in public office, could slide his campaign into this muck, with only his mouth to blame. Democrats will talk about this up to and thru election day, if someone listens and answers.

Remember! This election is about the economy, stupid! We cannot allow one more liberal D', to return to the den of iniquity, that is now the U.S. Senate, because her opponent gave a wrong answer about pregnancy after rape. Give Republican, Akin hell, after he is elected, but get to the polls and vote for him!

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 20, 2012 | 3:43 p.m.

My motive is not to defend this man or what he said at all. My motive is to compare what he did to what other more powerful Dem's have done and continue to do on a regular basis.

If I say a one time rapist should get a lighter sentence than a serial killer, am I defending the rapist? I think not.

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