Former Sen. Danforth campaigns for attorney general candidate Martin

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 | 6:44 p.m. CDT; updated 7:27 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 27, 2012

COLUMBIA — Former Republican U.S. Sen. John Danforth was in Columbia on Wednesday to campaign for attorney general candidate Ed Martin, but neither he nor Martin could escape questions about the Senate candidacy of Todd Akin.

Tuesday was the deadline for Akin, the Republican congressman from St. Louis, to drop out of the Senate race. Danforth and other Republican leaders urged him to do just that in August after his comments about abortion in cases of so-called "legitimate rape." Akin has ignored those pleas.

On Wednesday, a reporter asked Martin whether he agrees with Akin's position that abortion should not be allowed in any situation, with no exceptions for women who are raped. 

"Everything I know and believe about abortion tells me that it's wrong," Martin said.

Asked to clarify whether he believes there should be no exceptions, Martin repeated the statement verbatim. A second reporter asked the question a third time, prompting the identical response.

Martin said it is well-known that he is an abortion-rights opponent. He also said that he believes Akin was right to apologize for his statements and that he supports Akin in the race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

"I will vote for Akin," Martin said.

After stumping for Martin during a fundraising luncheon — praising his energy and his principles — Danforth disagreed with Martin about Akin. He said the Senate election is a tough one for Republicans.

"I cannot support Todd Akin," Danforth said.

Danforth said he wishes the Republican Party would stick with issues such as the economy and the national debt. He said he thinks Republicans such as Akin taint the party's brand and alienate women. 

"It's important for Republicans to make it clear we're an inclusive party," Danforth said.

Danforth said the problem doesn't lie solely with Akin. The former senator has been outspoken recently about the need for compromise in politics. He said Wednesday that he thinks both parties are at fault and that lack of compromise is a bipartisan problem.

Martin said he thinks the term "cooperation" is more accurate than "compromise" when describing how politicians should work together. He said he gained experience in bipartisan cooperation while working as chairman of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners and as chief of staff for former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt.

Martin said that he is more familiar with cooperation in politics than his Democratic opponent, incumbent Attorney General Chris Koster. Martin, however, has been aggressive in his campaign, repeatedly referring to Koster in news releases as "Obama's lawyer" because of Koster's handling of legal matters surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Martin said that if Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, is re-elected, he hopes to work together with him on reducing corruption. He also said that as attorney general, much of the work he would be doing would not be political in nature.

Danforth, who served as Missouri attorney general from 1969 through 1976, echoed that idea and said people aren't necessarily making a political decision when they choose an attorney general. 

"You're voting for a lawyer and a law office," Danforth said. "I think he'll put together a law office that will bring together good people and is not so interested in playing politics."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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