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Missouri candidate for U.S. Senate spikes campaign with “legitimate rape” comment September 2, 2012

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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U.S. Rep. Todd Akin won a competitive Republican primary in Missouri to challenge democrat Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat. Akin’s campaign, which led McCaskill in almost every poll, saw his fate change quickly after making a controversial comment about abortion and rape during a televised interview. Asked if he supports abortions in the case of rape, Akin stated, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare.” Akin then falsely added, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Following heavy criticism by his opponent, the media, and several Republicans, Akin issued an apology, stating: “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. 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.” However, Akin added, “I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.”

Refusing to bow out of the race as Republican leadership quickly requested, Akin now finds himself in a war with his own party. Republicans have called for fundraisers and the GOP to abandon his ticket, even if he might have a chance to unseat McCaskill. Akin, whose campaign is run by a small circle of family members, is now attacking his critics, claiming that pro-life voters are telling him that they are uncomfortable with the GOP’s knee-jerk reaction to leave him hanging.

To see Akin’s gaffe, and his uncomfortable apology released after the incident, watch the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why was Akin’s original statement so controversial? Why were Republicans so quick to distance themselves from his claim?

2. Why was Akin’s apology (seen in the second video) insufficient in repairing his image?

3.  Can Akin win the election? If not, can his career survive his gaffe?

4.  How might Akin’s resistance hurt the Republican party?

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