The fallout began in earnest Sunday afternoon over Missouri Congressman and Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's remarks about women being able to not get pregnant in the case of "legitimate rape." And it looks as bad as one would expect. In an interview posted online Sunday, Akin told a St. Louis television show that he opposed abortion even in the case of rape.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin told FOX 2's Jaco Report. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. 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.”
Sunday afternoon, presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan released a statement making it clear they don't agree with Akin's stance. “A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," they said in a statement.
Democrat incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, a former Jackson County prosecutor, was also quick to attack Akin over the strange and biologically baffling claims. “As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I’m stunned by Rep Akin’s comments about victims this AM,” she tweeted Sunday.
Kansas City state Rep. Mike Talboy, the Democratic House minority leader, had perhaps the most damning assessment. Talboy told The New York Times, "Nobody has defended him. That, I think, is pretty telling.”
Akin issued a statement Sunday saying he misspoke. "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," he said.
Nate Silver of the respected election blog FiveThirtyEight notes that in previous elections in which candidates make serious errors, it has cost them the election. Silver had Akin as a "very slight favorite," but he says the momentum is back toward McCaskill.