Todd Akin gains support of key conservatives

September 27, 2012
By Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times
KIRKWOOD, Mo.—— Republican Todd Akin‘s embattled campaign for Senate won support Wednesday from prominent conservatives, including some who had called on him to withdraw after he said victims of “legitimate rape” rarely became pregnant.

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint backed Akin one day after the final deadline passed for him to get off the ballot. The Republican Senate campaign committee, whose chairman had asked Akin to abandon the race, now says it hopes he wins. And Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a party leader in the Senate, dropped his opposition to Akin’s candidacy, saying he will support his fellow Missourian.

With Republicans struggling in their bid to pick up the four seats they need to wrest control of the Senate, some have calculated they must back Akin. Missouri still represents perhaps the party’s best chance to defeat an incumbent Democrat.

“If Republicans are to win back the Senate and stop President Obama‘s liberal agenda, we must defeat Sen. Claire McCaskillin Missouri,” Santorum and DeMint said in a statement sent to donors and posted on Facebook. “Todd Akin is a principled conservative who is committed to winning and fighting for freedom in the U.S. Senate.”

Support from these members of the fiscal and social conservative flanks of the party raises the question of whether other GOP leaders in Washington and Missouri will follow — and open the door for campaign money to flow to the race.

“As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November, and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead,” said Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Despite the controversy, Akin had retained support from two big-name conservatives: Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich.

Democrats have sought to use Akin’s views to tarnish Republicans in other races. On Wednesday, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the head of the Democratic Senate campaign committee, called GOP support for Akin “absolutely shameful.”

“All Republican candidates across the country are now going to have to answer for their party’s support of Akin,” she said.

The controversy began in August when an interviewer asked Akin whether rape victims should be able to get an abortion. Akin said it was “rare” for a rape victim to become pregnant. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said. “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

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