Several prominent Republicans have called on Rep. Todd Akin to withdraw from his Senate race against Claire McCaskill, but Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who would serve with Akin if the latter is elected, has now added his name to the list.
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is calling on Missouri U.S. Rep. Todd Akin to drop out of the Senate race in that state following comments Akin made about rape…
Johnson issued a statement Monday calling the comments “reprehensible and inexcusable.”
Johnson says gaining a Republican majority in the Senate and fixing the country’s problems are more important than any one person’s political ambitions. He says Akin “should do the right thing for the nation and step aside today, so Missouri Republicans can put forth a candidate that can win in November.”
I don’t know whether to root for this to happen or not. On the one hand, Akin has clearly damaged himself and reduced his chances of winning; on the other hand, changing candidates now might reduce the Republicans’ chances even further in that race. But there’s more. Akin’s candidacy could even hurt the Romney campaign:
The Obama campaign was attempting to focus on women’s health and abortion issues, even before the Akin controversy. Earlier this month, Obama campaign aired more advertisements about Romney’s views on Planned Parenthood than any other spot, and the Obama campaign launched an ad attempting to tie Romney to Ryan’s opposition to abortion in instances of rape or incest on Friday. Just yesterday, a friend emailed me an unsolicited picture of an Obama advertisement in a metro station in northern Virginia declaring that Romney was “too extreme” for Virginia because he opposes Roe v. Wade.
It’s not hard to see why the Obama campaign wants this debate. Moderate to liberal social views prevail in many affluent and well-educated metropolitan areas like Denver and northern Virginia, where a strong performance among moderate women can make the difference for Obama, as they did for Bennett two years ago. But more generally, meaningful gains among any group could be sufficient to put Obama over the top, given his proximity to 49 percent of the vote. Undecided voters are disproportionately women, and there’s no question that an overwhelming majority of voters, let alone women, support permitting abortion in instances of rape or incest. And recent polls were beginning to show signs that Obama was making additional inroads among white working class women who, presumably, were increasingly skeptical of Romney after attacks on Bain Capital and his tax returns.
So the Obama campaign was spending millions attempting to elevate abortion and women’s health issues in the minds of socially moderate voters even before yesterday’s controversy, which is all but assured to make Romney’s problem even worse. For voters who have already seen Obama’s advertisements, Akin’s comments could be a crystallizing moment that clarifies GOP’s position on social issues.
But that’s nothing compared to this one. The Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, a longtime associate of Randall Terry and one of the most virulent anti-abortion wingnuts on the planet, is calling on him to pull out as well.
“Congressman Todd Akin’s comment using the term ‘legitimate rape’ is offensive, repugnant and troubling.
“Rape is always violent and criminal and can never be linked with the term ‘legitimate.’ Although I respect the record of Congressman Aikin, especially in the pro-life community, some comments are so offensive and indefensible that one must assume the full consequences and responsibility for making them.
“Congressman Akin can demonstrate he accepts full responsibility by removing himself from the Missouri Senate race.
That’s actually pretty shocking.