Even as Mitt Romney and a host of other Republican leaders were urging Rep. Todd Akin to drop out of the Missouri Senate race, the national party's platform committee approved a pro-life plank August 21 that more closely resembled Akin's position than Romney's on the controversial issue of abortion.
Akin, who does not believe there should be an exception for rape in laws banning abortion, stumbled into a huge controversy on that point when asked about it in an interview that aired August 19 on a St. Louis television station. Akin said he believed pregnancies resulting from rape are rare. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said. If pregnancy does occur, he added, "I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment should be to the rapist, and not attacking the child."
Romney, who had called the remarks "inexcusable," joined a long list of Republicans who called on Akin to withdraw from the Senate race so that Missouri Republicans could choose a candidate with a better chance of defeating the incumbent, first-term Democrat Claire McCaskill.
"As I said yesterday, Todd Akin's comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country," Romney said in a statement issued on August 21. "Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race." The "fellow Missourians" who have called on Akin to quit the race include the state's Republican Senator Roy Blunt and former GOP Senators John Ashcroft, Kit Bond, John Danforth, and Jim Talent. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate, also joined the chorus calling for Akin's withdrawal, as did Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Olympia Snowe of Maine.
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Photo of Rep. Todd Akin speaking with reporters: AP Images