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Four Akin follow-ups

Following up on this morning’s post and the whole Todd Akin-rape-abortion mess:

1. A lot of people — including Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chair of the National Republican Senate Committee, are calling for Akin to resign the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate so the party can name someone else. Akin has said today that he will not. Fox News has a source inside the NRSC who says that Cornyn threatened to withhold the $5 million it had set aside to help the nominee pick up that (currently Dem-held) seat. That’s what a source says Cornyn told Akin, but for public consumption Cornyn put out a statement calling Akin’s remarks “wrong, offensive, and indefensible,” and urged Akin to “carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about.” Akin might like to wait a while to see if this blows over but he is under tremendous pressure to decide within 24 hours because of a fluke in Missouri election law.

As Roll Call notes:

If Rep. Todd Akin (R) does drop his Missouri Senate bid within the next 24 hours, as the GOP establishment is pressuring him to do, at least his timing will be impeccable.

Missouri state law allows a nominated candidate to withdraw his or her bid for office by 5 p.m. on the 11th Tuesday before the election which, as it turns out, is tomorrow. If Akin does drop his bid before tomorrow’s deadline, the state’s GOP central committee would pick his replacement.

This statutory fact alone is why Republicans — from National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) — are coalescing around a 24-hour ultimatum.

2. It turns out that the kind of blame-the-rape-victims pseudo-scientific quackery Akin cited has been around for a while and is widespread. Four months ago, when an Idaho state senator suggested that a lot of women falsely claim rape when they get pregnant, BuzzFeed assembled this anthology of related falsehoods that seek to make the issue of pregnancy-by-rape go away. In case you don’t click through, it starts with a federal judge who wrote that pregnancies caused by rape ” occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” It includes a congressman who said that when women are raped pregnancy is unlikely because “the juices don’t flow” and a Pennsylvania state representative who said in 1988 that during a rape, women “secrete a certain secretion” that tends to kill sperm.

3. Amy Davidson of the New Yorker dashed off a hard-hitting post fisking Akins’ statement. I liked the Davidson piece because, beyond mocking Akins’ assertion of the magical sperm-blocking powers of rape victims, she also zeroed on the whole “legitimate rape” vs. “illegitimate rape” theme.

4. As far as the potential impact on the overall race for control of the U.S. Senate, here are some numbers, based on the current Rothenberg Political Report rankings of Senate races.

The current Senate has 53 Dems (including two who are not technically Dems but who caucus with them. But the Dems are defending 23 of  33 seats that are on the ballot, which means the Repubs have a lot more pickup opportunities.

Before yesterday, conventional wisdom favored Akin to beat Dem incumbent Sen. Clair McCaskill. Rothenberg listed the race as “toss-up/leans Republican.”

If all of the races went the way Rothenberg was rating them heading into last weekend, it would create a Senate of 48 Republicans, 47 Democrats and five toss-ups. (The toss-ups are in Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin.) That would mean that Dems would need to win three of the five toss-ups just to end up with 50 votes (which would be enough to maintain bare control, if the Obama-Biden ticket wins, since the vice president holds the tie-breaking 101st vote.) If the Akin mess turns Missouri back into a pure toss-up or better for the Dems, it would be a big gift to them.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Tim Walker on 08/21/2012 - 08:02 am.

    Please, Rep. Akin …

    … don’t quit.

    Have the courage to stand up for your beliefs.

    Just because everyone is telling you that you are wrong doesn’t mean that you are wrong! Remember, at one time everyone was convinced that the sun revolved around the earth!

    Hang in there, dude!


    Every single Democrat in the U.S.

  2. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/21/2012 - 08:55 am.

    A thought about Amy Ryan’s New Yorker piece

    It seems that right wingers like Akins and Paul Ryan, among others, are trying to narrow an already narrow window of “choice” for women who are victims of rape. For them, a “rape” is only really a rape if it is reported to the police. It is their way of demanding “accountability” for women who seek to justify an abortion, perhaps for health coverage purposes. Anyway, that seems to me what they see as the difference between “legitimate” and “illegitimate rape”. You only get to such ridiculous logic when you have the government in the business of managing people'[s private affairs. I don’t buy any of it so let them explain it.

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