The Romney-Ryan campaign moved quickly August 19 to distance the presumptive Republican ticket from a comment by Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri, who said that when pregnancy results from rape, the law should punish the rapist and not the unborn child.
"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement," Romney campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg wrote in a statement quickly issued by the campaign. "A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape."
In a campaign season dominated by Republican attacks on President Obama's economic record and Democratic charges about Romney's business practices and personal finances, Akin sparked renewed controversy with his answer in a TV interview.
"It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said in an interview aired by KTVI-TV, a Fox affiliate in St. Louis." 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."
The TV station posted the interview on its web site and it drew sharp responses from Democrats as well as disavowals from Republicans. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the first-term incumbent Akin is opposing in the November election, responded with a Twitter Message. "As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I'm stunned by Rep Akin's comments about victims this AM.," the Missouri Democrat wrote. In an interview with National Review Online August 20, Romney went beyond the statement his campaign issued August 19 and called Akin's comments "inexcusable."
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