GOP Contenders Decry 'Legitimate Rape' Drivel, But What Could They Do In D.C.?

The two Connecticut Republicans with excellent shots at election to Congress this year — Linda McMahon and Andrew Roraback — on Monday were quick to denounce the ignorant comments about rape and women by the GOP Senate nominee from Missouri.

These nervous Republican candidates promised, in effect, "we're not like that." But it's unlikely the issue will go away in a year when Connecticut Republicans are trying to convince the state this is the year to take a chance on them.

Todd Akin's career imploded Sunday after he revealed his feelings about "legitimate rape" and his bizarre belief that the female body can prevent a pregnancy after a sexual assault.

A Senate or House candidate in Connecticut wouldn't have a prayer running on the sort of platform that Akin stands on. Some of his views, though, aren't so far from the Republican agenda that controls the U.S. House of Representatives. Last year in legislation that was not enacted, Akin co-sponsored a provision with GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan that sought to redefine some sexual assaults as "forcible rape,'' preventing some low-income victims from being eligible for federally funded abortions.

Some rapes are forcible, so some aren't. Some rapes are legitimate and others, according to at least one member of Congress, aren't.

Think about all this for a minute if you have a teenage daughter you worry about on Friday and Saturday nights.

With these "legitimate''rapes, Todd Akin said, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.'' That way, we don't have to worry about a pregnancy or access to health care.

"I've never heard any more outrageous, offensive and insensitive remarks in my political life,'' Roraback, the GOP 5th Congressional District nominee, told me when I called Monday morning. Pretty strong words for a Republican talking about another Republican.

"There are no adequate worlds to capture my utter contempt. They should be condemned by everyone,'' said Roraback. "I've never been afraid to buck my party when I felt it wasn't in the best interests of my district or what my party was advancing contrary to my beliefs."

But Chris Murphy, who is running for U.S. Senate against McMahon and who serves with Akin in the U.S. House, said the comments "represent the mainstream of Republican thought in Congress today, which is to require the definition of rape and to remove basic, decades-old protections for women's reproductive health."

"These guys are being radicalized by the day," Murphy said.

Everyone from President Obama to the National Journal to Mitt Romney slammed Akin's comments Monday, illustrating how volatile this issue is. Akin very likely will be gone from the Missouri ticket before sundown Tuesday. But his words, though he tried to take them back on Monday by saying he "mis-spoke," will haunt moderate Republicans for months to come.

"Rape is rape,'' Obama said Monday. "What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women."

Akin's opponent, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, called the comments a "a window into Todd Akin's mind."

For McMahon and Roraback, the incident is another reminder of the fine line they are promising to walk when it comes to social issues.

They want to represent Connecticut in Congress, but they don't want any part of what some party leaders are pushing. They're social moderates who will line up behind a political party with an agenda that doesn't resemble what a majority of Connecticut residents think and believe. (Nearly two-thirds of voters said they support the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in a Quinnipiac University Poll earlier this year.)

While some Republicans, including Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, have called for Akin to step aside, McMahon resisted. "I'll let them decide in Missouri," she said Monday during a stop on her "Real Progress" jobs tour.

McMahon, in brief comments to my colleague Amanda Falcone, said Akin's comments about rape and pregnancy were "reprehensible" and "clearly ignorant."

Indeed, McMahon and Roraback don't appear to be anything like Todd Akin from Missouri. The question is whether that will make a difference if they are elected.

 

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