The campaign arm of House Democrats began running a series of automated phone calls in Maryland's 6th Congressional District on Monday as part of the its latest effort to tie Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett to controversial comments on rape made this month by fellow Republican Rep. Todd Akin.
"By now, I'm sure you've heard Congressman Todd Akin's unbelievable comments about rape and his outrageous beliefs about women's rights," the call's narrator says, according to a script released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "You know what's even more worrisome? He's not alone."
The call follows an aggressive campaign by Maryland Democrats and Bartlett's challenger, Potomac financier John Delaney, to connect Bartlett to a comment offered by Akin in an Aug. 19 television interview that women rarely get pregnant from rape. "If it's a legitimate rape," the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri told a television reporter, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Bartlett has repudiated those comments -- in a statement last week, he said, "there is no room in politics for these types of statements" -- but Democrats have noted Bartlett and other Republicans co-sponsored measures with Akin that would ban abortion in cases or rape or incest. Democrats have been hammering the issue as Republicans meet in Tampa this week to nominate Mitt Romney for president.
Bartlett elected to stay in Maryland to continue his campaign rather than attend the Republican National Convention.
Bartlett, a 10-term incumbent, is facing the toughest reelection battle of his political career after Annapolis lawmakers redrew his congressional boundaries last year to make the district more competitive.
Ted Dacey, a Bartlett campaign aide, was not immediately available to respond to the robo call, but he said last week that Democrats had gone too far in efforts to associate Bartlett with Aiken. "This is the type of negative politics that Marylanders are sick and tired of," Dacey said at the time.
The DCCC is running the calls in 20 districts nationwide.