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'Legitimate rape' gaffe in Missouri could be bad news for Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida

Nothing can clarify or take back a phrase like "legitimate rape."

When Missouri GOP Senate candidate and Congressman Todd Akin uttered the two words Sunday, he tried to take it back as an "off the cuff" remark in explaining why he opposes rape-and-incest exceptions to an abortion ban. The Republican presidential ticket distanced themselves from Akin. Other Republicans started writing off his campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.

And that could be bad news for Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.

Here's why: Nelson's supporters were hoping that the GOP Super PACs might let up on him and start heading to the Show Me State as he started to bloody up Republican Congressman Connie Mack, whose campaign has made some Republican insiders in Florida a little nervous. As noted here last month: "Nelson's camp probably hopes to tar Mack, hurt him in the polls in time for the August Republican National Convention in Tampa, slow his fundraising (reports are due about the time of the RNC) and hope the Super PACs go somewhere else if they believe Mack's not worth the investment. Florida is a large TV state and it might be more cost-effective for the Super PACs to go elsewhere, say less-expensive and more-competitive Missouri, to pick up a Senate seat."

Then Akin opened his mouth on KTVI-TV in Missouri as he explained pregnancies that arise from rape.

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” he said. “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.”

Unlike Akin, Mack is an establishment Republican. And though his campaign has had a misstep hither and yon, he's still essentially tied with Nelson. Mack has not only avoided social issues; he's smart enough not to say that there's a thing called "legitimate rape."

Akin soon tried to clarify in a statement: "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.... 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.”

In Florida, Democrats can't expect to get this lucky. Mack has had his share of missteps. But nothing like this. An establishment Republican, he has avoided hot-button social issues. And it's tough to see him saying something like "legitimate rape." In fact, it's tough to see any major candidate saying something like that.

If third-party groups didn't have an excuse to avoid Missouri, now they have a big one. And suddenly Florida looks like a much better investment.


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/07/smart-or-nervous-or-both-sen-bill-nelson-up-on-air-early.html#storylink=cpy


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Kelly Hickman

So Akin makes one large gaffe and the Republicans back away?! Obama and Biden tell lies and make thousands of thoughtless statements and get away with it. The Dems still support them.


I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservatives. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any will deny it.
John Stuart Mill

Tally Folly

Marc must have been asleep at the wheel during this campaign. Mack hasn't said anything dumb about the issues because he is too stupid to address them.
Mack Campaign has had more disastrous communications gaffes than almost any campaign I can think of.
Not really sure how this spells bad news for Nelson.
Your logic is wanting on this one.


I don't see the controversy. Mr. Akin was referring to violent rape and he has the right to use the term legitimate in the face of the many cases of rape that are proven to be false. I don't understand why in all other criminal cases one is innocent until proven guilty and with rape it is the other way around. Anyone remember the Duke Lacrosse team???

I do think that there should be no change in abortion laws, except for partial birth bans. There is a tremendous amount of hypocrisy on the left and the MSM to pounce on these comments the way that they have.


Mr. Akin is totally wrong on the concept of rape not ending up in pregnancy though and I think that is the greater issue here. But he is not alone in elected officials (Dem and Rep) being off the mark on health related issues.

R. Berthaut

I wonder if Mr. Akin would parse his words with such attention to nuance if a family member of his were to be victimized. Imagine this scenario. "Excuse me, daughter of mine, are you certain the rape you are alleging is legitimate? Does it meet the GOP/ Cracked Tea Kettle Party criteria for legitimacy?" Mr. Akin shouldn't be running for any public office as he he incapable of expressing himself in an intelligent manner.

John N Florida

Mr. Akin used the term 'Legitimate Rape' in the same vein as the Amendment he and Ryan supported which defined RAPE as only occurring when force was used, i.e. the woman had Defensive Wounds.
Barring Defensive Wounds or, in the cases of Statutory Rape, those are 'Illegitimate Rapes'.
Illegitimate Rapes do not qualify for Federally Funded Abortions which only kick in when the pregnancy results from Rape, Incest, or the Life of the Mother.
Akin KNEW exactly what he was saying and used the terms he agrees with.

John N Florida

Mack will have enough of a problem just keeping himself out of the 'weeds'. His campaign follows the Romney Tactic of saying as little as possible, being as glib as possible without defining anything.
Where Mack will get in trouble is IF/when good reporters press him for answers.
At best, he'll retreat behind the Fox outlets where he'll know the questions in advance and have glib answers which will have no follow ups.
At worst, he'll just use surrogate campaign commercials which have already been proven false by media checkers everywhere.
Mack votes against women even when he votes for them. He voted for the Violence Against Women Act as long as it subtracted Native American and Gay Women from those protections.
He voted against the Equal Pay Bill; against Employment Discrimination Amendments designed to protect women,and voted FOR HR 3 including the Amendment supported by Akin and Ryan which redefined Rape as only being a crime when Force is used in the commission of the crime.
If Mack's vote is representative of his position on women,and I haven't heard him deny it, victims of non-violent Rape will get no help from the Federal Government - or as Santorum said, "A child of Rape is a Gift from GOD."
Let's be clear - a 'non-violent' Rape occurs when the woman has no Defensive Wounds (even if she was threatened with a weapon); the Rape is Statutory in nature, i.e. older/younger or relative.
That's THEIR definition, not mine.
A woman with a gun to her head or threatened with a knife is not consenting just because she refuses to be DEAD.

Sapient Hetero

While it's true that liberals lie through their teeth and their party honors them for it, it's good to see that conservatives have higher standards. It's about time somebody showed a bit of class. Bravo!

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